Iraqi army soldiers are seeking to encircle the Makhmour (Mexmûr) Refugee Camp, home to approximately 13,000 Kurdish refugees, with wire fences and armoured vehicles, ANF reported on Saturday morning.
The camp, established in 1994 by refugees fleeing the Turkish army’s military operations in southeastern Turkey, has received support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 2011, granting the inhabitants legal documentation, access to education and healthcare services. Additionally, residents with residency permits are eligible to apply for work facilitated by the Iraqi government.
In response to the impending siege, the people of Makhmour have initiated resistance efforts. The residents have begun a tent protest to voice their opposition to the Iraqi army’s actions. Despite adverse weather conditions, including heavy rain, hundreds of people have gathered at the camp’s checkpoint, vowing to continue their resistance until the siege is lifted.
Women from Makhmour have been at the forefront of the resistance, expressing their refusal to accept the encirclement of the camp with wire fences. Pointing to the fact that they have been refugees in Makhmour for 23 years without causing harm to anyone, elderly women have blocked armoured vehicles in defiance and made themselves into a human shield. They assert that they will persist in their resistance until the soldiers withdraw and the siege ends.
The Makhmour People’s Assembly, representing the residents, has met with Iraqi officials to discuss the ongoing developments. Following their discussions, Filiz Budak, speaking on behalf of the People’s Assembly, emphasised that they would not surrender their will and would continue to resist. Budak criticised the Iraqi army’s attempt to disregard their right to life and autonomy, highlighting that the government’s focus on building towers around the camp belied the urgent need for protection from airstrikes and other pressing issues. The People’s Assembly stands firm in their determination not to back down, emphasising their three-decade-long struggle for self-determination. They vow to resist the imposition of towers and assert their right to decide their own fate.