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Ghazaliya Displaced Seek Fresh Start
Just Blocks from Home, Some Squatters Give up on Return
By SLOGGER NETWORK 03/27/2009 7:45 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Families displaced from the western Baghdad area of Ghazaliya to the outskirts of the district have given up on the idea of returning to their nearby homes, and have instead petitioned the Iraqi government to grant them land to start over in new homes.

Residents of the Ghazaliya district who are familiar with the situation of families forced by armed groups to leave their homes in 2006 say that many of the displaced families have been squatting only a short distance away from their original homes, but have been unable to return due to the presence of displaced Iraqis who fled from other areas living in their original homes.

Locals say that many of the families have given up their requests for government assistance to move back to their original Ghazaliya residences, and have instead asked the Iraqi Prime Minister’s office to grant land in the outskirts of Ghazaliya for the construction of residential complexes to house the families, while others still hope that the government will provide the security and administrative coordination required to move back home.

Colonies of improvised mud-brick dwellings have sprouted up in the areas of al-Mushajir Street and al-Badala street. Eyewitnesses told IraqSlogger that not only do these houses lack the most basic amenities, but that Iraqi security forces routinely appear in the squatter colonies, demanding that the families vacate the areas.

The formerly mixed area of Ghazaliya fell prey to Sunni Muslim extremist control and criminal operations in the aftermath of the security deterioration that followed the 2003 fall of the former Iraqi regime. Sectarian cleansing accelerated in the district in 2006. Iraqi forces and local volunteer fighters maintain a tenuous hold on the area today.

Members of IraqSlogger's network of Iraqi staff contributed to this report but choose to remain anonymous for security reasons.

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