Wednesday, October 10, 2007
(RFE/RL) - A full census will be carried out in the contested oil-rich governorate of Kirkuk in mid-November, said Narmin Uthman, the deputy head of the Higher Commission for the Implementation of Article 140 of the constitution, Kurdish media reported on October 4. Article 140 concerns repatriation of those displaced under Saddam Hussein's regime to their original homes. As it applies to Kirkuk, the article paves the way for thousands of Kurds displaced from their homes to return to the governorate. It also requires that tens of thousands of Arab families resettled in Kirkuk under Hussein must return to their homes and villages in the south of the country.
The census, called for in the constitution, will be followed by a referendum by residents in Kirkuk to decide whether to join the Kurdistan region or remain outside it. International media reported this week that the commission has begun to compensate Arab families for leaving their homes in Kirkuk. The government is offering 20 million dinars (around $16,000) to each family that leaves Kirkuk and relocates to their original homes. The number of Arab families living in Kirkuk is not known, but estimates run between 70,000 and 135,000 families.