06/15/2021 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – Ninety-four Iraqi families were recently repatriated to Iraq from the Syrian al-Hol camp. The Al-Hol camp is a notorious radical breeding ground for supporters of the Islamic State, although victims of ISIS and of many nationalities are also present.
This is the first round of nearly 500 families to be repatriated and reintegrated in Iraq, with a total of 30,000 Iraqis living in al-Hol. The approved and deleted list of families has been transferred to the Iraqi Jeddah 1 camp in Nineveh. Many returnees are believed to be from Salah al-Din and Anbar provinces, although after a series of closures in October 2020, only two other IDP camps remain open outside northern Kurdish Iraq.
The Iraqi government completed the first round of transfers with very little warning, planning and notification to local authorities and international attention. The decision to repatriate Iraqis from al-Hol is criticized, with local communities saying families will never be accepted because of their time spent in al-Hol. Although not all individuals of al-Hol are part of the Islamic State, the conditions and the young demographics create fertile ground for radicalism. Some 47 people were reportedly killed in al-Hol this year by ISIS sleeper cells operating in the camp. Iraqi authorities say the families were vetted before returning to Iraq, although reports of casualties and proud ISIS supporters already exist within the group.
It appears that the repatriation process also lacks a clear rehabilitation plan, as well as the preparation of tents, food and support. Some have expressed concern that rehabilitation will become a process where aid is only distributed with positive development.
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