When the city of Kirkuk changed hands between the Peshmerga and Hashd al-Shaabi militants last October, many residents fled their homes as looting and murder began. Now, order has been somewhat restored by Iraqi security forces but these same displaced citizens believe they cannot return home. An investigative committee has been established by the central Iraqi government but the former residents of Tuz Kurmatu believe it will yield little in the way of results.

Tuz Kurmatu is on the outskirts of Kirkuk and shares a border with the city of Bashir, both regions are predominantly Shiite. The Hashd al-Shaabi forces that took over and now occupy the city are Shiite in origin as well as a full-fledged paramilitary force directly supported by Iraq and Iran. The displaced Kurdish residents are predominantly Sunni. This is where the confiscation of homes and ensuing chaos is rooted next to an inherent distrust between Iraqis and Kurds in general.

Under the belief that the perpetrators will not likely be held accountable for their actions by the committee, citizens express defeatism. An anonymous citizen identified as ‘Govand’ told local media that, “We have no hopes for the committee. Whatever committee has visited us has only given pledges. Everything in this Iraq has only become shiny words,” speaking to the general sentiment felt by the local populace. The Kurdish Regional Government has contended that the mass displacement is a form of ethnic cleansing by Iraqi Arabs.

The investigative committee was formed this year when the Iraqi Minister of Immigration went to Kirkuk to begin the investigation. The committee is made up of multiple ethnicities to include Turkmen, Kurds and Arabs to give the collective a diverse and unbiased outlook on the situation. Around 181,000 residents were displaced from Kirkuk because of the ongoing conflict in the region. It’s hard to reach an exact figure as a good deal of these people moved in with family members residing within Kurdistan and have neglected to tell the KRG or the United Nations of their status.