Iraqi Refugees In Jordan Long To Return Home
To 67-year-old Iraqi refugee Mette Raffo Kalakwan, the liberation of Mosul has been the most exciting news since he fled to Jordan along with his family three years ago.
Like many of the estimated 55,000 Iraqis who fled to Jordan after the Islamic State (ISIS) group seized large swaths of territory in Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014, Kalakwan brought his family to Amman and they have been living in displacement ever since.
Kalakwan said he used to own a farm and ran a poultry business back in Iraq. Life was comfortable, but ISIS ruined everything. Now, he and other six family members live in a two-bedroom apartment in Amman.
"I had a large chicken farm [back in Iraq] but I had to leave. I couldn't take anything with me because of the atrocities of ISIS. They ruined everything. We fled from our home in the middle of the night with nothing on us. We fled all the way to Erbil," said Kalakwan, referring to the capital of the Kurdistan Region.
Kalakwan had thought that living as refugees was just temporary for his family so they did not register at the UN refugee agency. But the lack of refugee status has denied his family regular relief from international organizations, and so the family has had to rely on Kalakwan's two sons who remain in Iraq to make ends meet.
When the news of Mosul's liberation came, the Kalakwan family were elevated. The excitement, however, was short-lived, because, on top of the unprecedented destruction wrought by the years of fighting, Kalakwan was still worried about the security situation in his home country.
"If Iraq is safe, I will go back, because everything I own is still there. I will not be the only one. Everyone who fled the Karakoush village will go back. But at the moment, Iraq is still not safe because there is still violence and gunfights every day," said Kalakwan.
Kalakwan added that he longed to go back home, but returning seems to remain a distant dream for him because of the instability in Iraq.
"We keep praying for Iraq, hoping it will regain peace one day. There is no better country than Iraq. But we don't know what the future will look like. Based on everything we heard from the news, it seems there hasn't been any hope for Iraq," he said.
After months of fighting, Mosul was declared liberated by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on July 10. However, 80 percent of the city has reportedly suffered damage or been destroyed by war, leaving behind a mammoth task of rebuilding and returning hundreds of thousands of civilians who remain internally displaced in Iraq.
Iran and the U.K. have both announced they will assist in the reconstruction of Mosul. Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, announced on Thursday (July 13) Britain is transferring £40 million of aid to help the people of Mosul rebuild their lives.