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Iraqis Prepare to Leave Hol Camp Amid Fears of PMF Retaliation

Iraqis Prepare to Leave Hol Camp Amid Fears of PMF Retaliation

Thursday, 15 April, 2021 - 10:30
An Iraqi family in al-Hol camp prepares to return to Iraq (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Iraqi government has agreed to evacuate 500 families from al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria’s Hasakah province, which hosts more than 8,000 Iraqi families of the total 62,000 residents.


Director of the Exit Office in al-Hol Camp Munir Mohammad told Asharq Al-Awsat that preparations for Iraqi repatriations started after the Iraqi government struck a deal with the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and Hol camp's management.


Thousands of displaced Iraqis queued in front of the Exit Office to inquire about the departure dates which will begin this week, or register their names to return to their country, noting that between 2017 and 2018 about 8,000 refugees returned.


More than 50,000 Iraqis voluntarily returned to their hometowns until the end of 2018, according to the figures of the Exit Office.


The official pointed out that over the past two years, the Iraqi authorities refused to receive citizens wishing to return.


Mohammad stated that more than 20,000 Iraqis are willing to return provided that they are transferred under the supervision of United Nations and international humanitarian agencies.


“Everyone fears reprisals from the Popular Mobilization Forces, which controls many areas in Iraq,” asserted Mohammed.


At the Office, Sajida, 50, was pleased to know about her return, saying she’d go back on foot if they allowed her, adding that she’s tired of living in the camp along with her big family.


Nahida Habib al-Mohammad couldn't remember her birthday but recalled escaping five years ago from al-Anbar after ISIS took control over the governorate. She was displaced with her family into many areas, before settling in the camp two years ago.


Nahida awaits impatiently to return to her hometown and reunite with her family. She said she had registered her family several times before, but the Iraqi authorities had refused to receive them.


In another tent, Awad al-Shammari, from Sinjar in northern Iraq, sat with his wife, Khadija, and the families of their two married sons.


Khadija described their dire living conditions, saying their tent lacks basic necessities, but she was relieved after hearing news of their return to Iraq.


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