Iraq: Compensation for Fallujah residents slow - locals
FALLUJAH, 4 April (IRIN) - Compensation for residents of Fallujah city, some 60 km from the Iraqi capital, is happening at a slow pace, local people say.
Government studies suggest that 70 percent of buildings were destroyed in the city during the last conflict between US troops and insurgents.
This left thousands of families still encamped on the outskirts of the city, waiting for a government solution to their problem.
Two-thirds of the city's population is said to have fled when the fighting started between November 2004 and January 2005.
Based on studies, each family will receive a sum of money, depending on the damage and size of their property.
"I cannot return to my home because it has been totally devastated and the government told me that I have to be patient and wait for my name to come up on the list for compensation. But it is going very slowly and my family need a roof over their heads," Kareem Aydan, a resident from Fallujah, camped on the outskirts of the city, told IRIN.
Muhammad Abdul al-A'ani, deputy minister for industry, told IRIN that of the total number of houses damaged in the city, only 90 families had received compensation of around US $1,500 each so far.
He added that $100 million from the Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Funds (IRRF) had been set aside by the government to compensate and help families to return to their homes.
"We have found that $500 million is required for total compensation in the city but the US [-led] Coalition has just offered us $100 million so far, but they have promised that soon the rest will come into our hands," al-A'ani added.
Doctor Hafid al-Dulaimi, director of the Commission for the Compensation of Fallujah Citizens (CCFC), established by the government, told IRIN that a study had been carried to assess the scale of destruction. He reported 36,000 destroyed homes in all districts of Fallujah, along with 8,400 shops.
Al-Dulaimi pointed out that 60 children's nurseries, primary and secondary schools and colleges were destroyed and 65 mosques and religious sanctuaries were almost demolished by the attack, with 13 government buildings requiring new infrastructure.
"Most of the houses need to be rebuilt from scratch and the government should offer much more for families to enable them to return to their homes and [go back] to what it was like before the conflict started. Some shops have even disappeared and we hope that they stop discussing who will take the new government seats and remember that they have a lot to do here in Fallujah," al-Dulaimi urged.
However, there are some signs of normality returning to the stricken city, as basic facilities such as water pipes and sewage treatment plants are being repaired. Damaged schools are being renovated and new ones are being built by either the Coalition or the government.
According to Ahmed Salah, a senior officer from the public works ministry, two electricity substations, three water purification plants and two train stations were badly damaged, along with the sewage and surface water drainage subsystems throughout the city.
He explained that they were trying hard to meet basic needs. "Families in the city can find potable water in each corner of the city in tanks and through that we can guarantee healthy water until we have finished all our work and we believe that it won't take too long," Salah added.
A retired father of five, Abu Youssef received $1,500, but he said he needs five times more to repair his house and bring back everything they have had before inside it.
"Thank God I have received something. There are thousands of families that are still waiting for the compensation. But still, this amount of money is not enough to rebuild my house again," he told IRIN.
The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) said that people in Fallujah had at least started to receive their monthly ration parcels, including those still camped in areas around the city.
Nearly 90,000 people had returned to the city, with another 200,000 families still waiting to enter, according to Lt. Gen. John Satler, a senior officer in the US Marines.
"Some families have started to be compensated and hospitals and schools have started to be opened. Soon Fallujah will be open to the people [in a] much better [condition] than before," Satler told IRIN.
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