IRAQ: Compensation for damaged property inadequate, say Diyala residents
BAQUBAH, 26 September 2007 (IRIN) - Residents of Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad and adjacent to the Iranian border, say the payments they will get from the Iraqi government are insufficient compensation for the damage caused to their property by US and Iraqi forces in recent military operations.
The ethnically mixed province [see box], a major insurgent stronghold, saw heavy fighting in the past few weeks in which warplanes, helicopter gunships and artillery were used against Al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq. Residents say the fighting left over 5,000 families displaced and in poverty, and damaged hundreds of houses, shops, government buildings and schools. Almost all towns and villages in the province have been affected by the military operations, they say.
“The damage is extensive and many buildings have been totally destroyed. The amount to be paid by the government is less than half the value of the properties before they were damaged,” said Maruan Ziad, an economics professor at Baghdad University and a senior official at the Ministry of Construction and Housing.
Ziad said some villages had been almost completely destroyed and would have to be rebuilt from scratch.
“Many families are still displaced and others are fleeing Baqubah [the provincial capital] as sectarian violence worsens. Some partially destroyed houses have been occupied by other families, and residents are encountering difficulties returning to their homes,” Ziad added.
The Iraqi authorities have allocated US$50 million for compensation. Imad Jalil, Diyala’s deputy governor, has said 10 million Iraqi dinars (about US$7,000) would be the maximum that would be paid to each household for the damage caused. Residents and specialists have said the money is not sufficient for families to rebuild their properties, and should be doubled.
“Inadequate and unfair”
“The Iraqi government is trying to compensate families but isn’t being fair in discharging its duties and we know there is corruption in the compensation scheme,” Ziad said.
This view is echoed by Fahed Abdel-Sattar, a 34-year-old resident of Baqubah, who is now displaced, along with his family, after their home and shop were destroyed: “The government wants to compensate us by paying us less than 50 percent of the value of our property that was damaged in the conflict.”
“My shop doesn’t exist any more and my house is nearly 70 percent damaged and the government has offered me less than $7,000. Before it was damaged my house was valued at $15,000,” Abdel-Sattar said. “They want to show the world that they are helping but the help is inadequate and unfair.”
Deputy Governor Jalil said the money allocated per family had been carefully determined by Ra’ad Hamid al-Tamimi, governor of Diyala, and specialists, and was sufficient for families to rebuild their properties.
“Reconstruction materials are going to be offered to families at reduced prices, enabling them to rebuild their homes and shops. The provincial council will be working together with families to guarantee their protection and well being,” Jalil said.
Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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