Sait Çömlek, a member of the Makhmour Camp Diplomacy Committee explains the difficulties that the residents of the refugee camp face since the KDP imposed an embargo on the camp two years ago.
The embargo was imposed by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) against the UN-protected Makhmour Refugee Camp and has been in place for the last two years.
The Camp is located 180km south of the Turkish border and hosts thousands of Kurdish refugees forcibly displaced from their villages in SE Turkey by the Turkish army in the 1990s. Although the camp is supposed to be under UN protection, the residents have suffered from the strict embargo and have also been targeted by Turkish drones.
The residents of the camp have repeatedly called upon international institutions to “fulfil their responsibilities” in regards the attacks, however most of the time both the UN and other institutions simply publish statements that they are “concerned” about the situation in the camp and then continue to remain silent about the attacks.
MA interviewed a Member of the Makhmour Camp Diplomacy Committee, Sait Çömlek about the latest situation in the camp. Çömlek’s statements reveal that the people in the camp feel abandoned and alone while also being deprived of the most basic rights like having proper medical treatment.
“We used to be able to meet all of our needs through Erbil in the past. But we have not been allowed to go there for the last two years due to the embargo. We face very serious difficulties especially when we have patients in need of treatment.”
He continues: “After the embargo in the camp, living here became much harder. 8 pregnant women lost their babies, 1 man had a heart attack and was only allowed to go to the hospital after being held for 4-5 hours, unfortunately our friend had died.”
With the coronavirus pandemic it only got worse, he adds.
“Hundreds of our people were infected with Covid 19 and 8 people died from this disease. Besides this, we have hundreds of people with chronic illnesses in the camp. Especially diabetics and blood pressure patients have had a very hard time. We have 30 cancer patients in total. These patients were not treated either. ”
Çömlek added that due to the ongoing attacks either by ISIS or Turkey, people are also suffering psychologically in the camp.
“The attacks against our camp never end. Our people live under constant threat. We try to get through these hard days by being in solidarity with each other”
Çömlek noted that as the Diplomacy Committee, they decided to find other ways to solve their problems.
“We’re struggling economically. Mosul is very close to us, but we can’t go there because of the threat from ISIS. Since we realised that they [the KDP] will not allow us to enter Erbil, we have started our diplomacy to be able to gain access to Sulaymaniyah. We have had some discussions with human rights institutions and Kurdistani institutions there. We have reached a certain point in these discussion and the situation is slightly more hopeful than before”
Finally, Çömlek calls for national unity among Kurds and underlined that they have the right to defend themselves.
“Our enemies, the Turkish State and its allies are constantly launching open attacks against us. We need to take these attacks seriously. We have to defend ourselves.”