Stars and Stripes 22 Dec, 2020 21:30 am

Thousands displaced by the ISIS war may be killed if they are sent home

Thousands displaced by the ISIS war may be killed if they are sent home
As the Iraqi government now speaks of shuttering displacement camps where tens of thousands of these internal refugees have been sheltering since then and returning them to their villages, the prospect of retribution back home awaits.

25, 2016 photo shows refugees who fled the village of Tob Zawa, about five miles east of Mosul, after living under the Islamic State's strict rules for more than two years.MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE, LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS DUJAIL, Iraq — The homes destroyed by the Islamic State are still smashed.Hundreds of villagers perished here fighting the militants, and many more villagers fled in the aftermath, fearing they would be tarred as sympathizers of the Islamic State — some because they were, some because their relatives had joined the group, and yet others simply because they shared the same Sunni Muslim faith."The Islamic State is gone, and we're still living in their wreckage," said Kadhim al-Khazaraji, a local Shiite Muslim sheikh as his gaze settled on a house that had collapsed like a half-melted candle.

More than three years after the Islamic State was ousted from its territory in Iraq, at least 1 million mostly Sunni civilians remain displaced and communities they hail from remain divided, the psychological scars of war often as fresh as those still etched into the facades of Dujail.Humanitarian aid groups are warning that if the camps are closed, tens of thousands of people, most of them women and children, risk homelessness or violent reprisals from Shiite militiamen and even from their own tribes and kin over perceived affiliation with the Islamic State.

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