Telafar in Ninawa province is an area with an Iraqi Turkmen population and was under the control of the Islamic State from 2014 until 2017, when it was retaken by Iraqi government forces. Since that time, many of the original inhabitants have returned, though challenges remain in reconstruction and restoration of services.
Political parties have returned to establish bases in Telafar. Among those parties is the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. To learn more about the current situation in Telafar, I conducted an interview with the media of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Telafar branch on 11 September 2020. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: What is the number of inhabitants in Telafar currently and what is the proportion of the original inhabitants who have returned to the city since its liberation from the Dawa'esh [Islamic State people]?
A: The number of inhabitants previously in 2014 was around 300,000 people. Currently the proportion of return is more than 60%, meaning more than 180,000 people are present inside the district.
Q: How do you assess the services and humanitarian situation in the town in general? For example services of electricity and water how are they currently?
A: The services and in particular water and electricity are currently very good in general, except some of the areas in terms of water have only one day of water flowing from the network every seven days.
Q: Are there any reconstruction projects in Telafar currently? Are these projects supported by countries?
A: The projects in Telafar currently are distributed in paving the old streets and sometimes renovating the middle islands [i.e. the middle parts between the roads]. There are other projects as well currently like replacing the lighting poles, planting date palm trees in the middle islands, renovating some of the health clinics, working on building the al-Hussein hospital of 100 beds that was blown up by the terrorists after it reached the end stages in June 2014. Of course all the projects are from the support of the central government via the funds for rebuilding the liberated areas or the Turkmen areas or the development of the regions from the budget of Ninawa province.
As for projects of other countries: yes, some NGOs affiliated with some of the neighbouring countries have participated in cleaning the city after its liberate and other international NGOs are working to support the families in renovating their homes and helping some of the projects of water, electricity and health.*
Q: What are the biggest challenges in terms of the services and humanitarian situation in Telafar currently? For example deficiency of money for the reconstruction projects?
A: The biggest of the challenges is the lack of compensation for the families whose homes and properties were damaged by the Dawa'esh. And we have a big problem in the municipal office, in terms of clear deficiency in vehicles and money to employ cleaning workers.
Q: How does the Islamic Supreme Council try to help the people in Telafar?
A: The Islamic Supreme Council in Telafar works through the officials in Baghdad to support and make up for the deficiencies in infrastructure whether in wha concerns health, medicines, municipal offices or the water network. The Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq Telafar branch works to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood, mutual tolerance and harmony in society through continual contact or through defending those who have rights.
*(Update 12 September 2020): answer modified as per additional comment by the interviewee.