Iraq’s Diyala province asks for 33,000 new houses to replace slums

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By Laith Jawad

Azzaman, January 19, 2013

The once violent Province of Diyala has urged the government to allocate resources for the construction of 33,000 new homes to replace its slums.

Diyala of which the city Baqouba is the provincial capital was one of the most violent provinces in the country during the turmoil that engulfed Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003-U.S. invasion.

The slums were “an affront to the general well-being” of the population in the province, said Rasem al-Ukaili, the official in charge of reconstruction and investment.

Ukaili said the slums were scattered in 20 locations in the provincial capital and its outskirts and were inhabited by low-income and impoverished families.

“There is an urgent need for the construction of 33,000 housing units to tackle the phenomenon of haphazard housing (slums) by offering decent living conditions for the poor and the needy,” he said.

Normalcy is slowly returning to Diyala which has never been as quiet in the years since the U.S. invasion.

But Ukaili said poverty and unemployed breed anxiety and violence and “the slums are having a negative impact.”

He did not say whether the authorities in Baghdad have made any promises but the Ministry of Planning has announced schemes for the construction of tens of thousands of homes across the country.

Housing shortages are almost everywhere in Iraq and the government says at least one million new homes must be built to alleviate the crisis.