BAGHDAD – Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women who fled war and conflict are facing systemic inequalities in their fight to return to their homes, a rights report published Monday revealed about Iraq's internally displaced population.
The Norwegian Refugee Council's findings show that up to 11% of Iraq's female internally displaced population are facing barriers that include the inability to access property, establish ownership and seek compensation for homes damaged during the war against the Islamic State.
Sabaha Ahmad, 73, is one of thousands of internally displaced Iraqi women who say they are facing discriminatory practices as Iraq seeks to recover from years of conflict.
Speaking with The Associated Press, she said she was unable to return home because of long-standing tribal disputes since the war against the Islamic State. Instead, she has spent nearly four years in camps for the internally displaced in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region.
Ahmad has not stepped foot in her home in Shirqat, a Sunni Arab district in northern Salahadin province, since late 2016 when it was liberated from IS by Iraqi security forces.
“I can’t go back home to Shirqat because the tribe has banished us from the area,” she said. “One of them accused my son of being an IS member, but this isn’t true. It was because they wanted our land.”
According to the NRC, 9% of women surveyed in the provinces of Dohuk, Ninewa, Kirkuk and Anbar said their property was being occupied by relatives, local tribal leaders, militias and security forces, impeding their return.
The report, which was based on a survey of 1,002 people, found that even the slightest suspicion of IS affiliation had denied women the ability to prove property ownership, “even if they possess official documents,” the report said.