The Makhmour (Mexmûr) Refugee Camp in Iraq has been under a four-day siege by the Iraqi Army, but residents continue to display their resilience. In a significant development, a United Nations delegation arrived on Tuesday to engage in talks, marking the first visit of the United Nations mission to the Makhmour Refugee Camp since 2014.
As the Iraqi Army erects fences along the roads leading to the camp, a delegation consisting of Makhmour mothers advocating for a peaceful resolution met with Iraqi officials on Monday, urging them to pursue dialogue to resolve the crisis.
Filiz Budak, Co-Chair of the Makhmour Democratic People’s Assembly, also participated in discussions with the Iraqi government on Monday. Following the meeting, Budak highlighted how the resistance mounted by the people of Makhmour against the Iraqi Army’s blockade has compelled the Iraqi government to engage in negotiations.
“We have been steadfast in our resistance for three days. Although we have been engaged in discussions, it is premature to claim that everything has been finalized,” announced Budak. “On the first day, they declared their unwillingness to engage in dialogue. However, their attempts to achieve their goals were unsuccessful, ultimately leading them to come to the negotiating table. We conveyed our demands, vehemently opposing the construction of towers, barbed wires, and trenches. Some of our demands were accepted. Thus, they have temporarily suspended their efforts, and tomorrow they will convey our additional demands to Baghdad. We will convene for another meeting, and the outcome will be revealed then.”
The situation in Makhmour remains tense as the community anxiously awaits the results of the final negotiations scheduled for Tuesday. In the meantime, the executive council of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organisation of Kurdish groups, has voiced its protest against the siege and called upon all Kurdish people to support the resistance in the camp.
“The patriotic people of Maxmur require unwavering support and solidarity from the people and democratic forces of Kurdistan. We must stand united without provocation and ensure that the people of the camp are not left alone. The solidarity of the patriotic Kurdish people and democratic groups with the Maxmur camp is of utmost importance,” emphasised the KCK in a statement.
The Iraqi army has sealed off all entrances and exits to the camp since 20 May, including access for and to those critically ill. The military blockade has rendered the camp completely isolated, preventing anyone from entering or leaving.
Kurdish refugees in the camp believe that the Iraqi government has attacked the camp in response to pressure from the Turkish government because of the critical elections in Turkey. The Turkish government under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has intensified its crackdown on the Kurds, particularly in the run-up to the national elections.