Despite the Makhmour refugee camp, home to over 12,000 Kurdish refugees, being UN-protected, Turkey continues to attack it. A child and a woman were injured in the latest ‘Medium Altitude Long Endurance’ drone attack on the camp on 3 September. Three people were also killed in a similar attack by the Turkish armed forces in June.
The camp is located over 100 miles south of the Turkish border in northern Iraq, and hosts thousands of Kurdish refugees forcibly displaced by the Turkish army from their villages in southeast Turkey in the 1990s. Despite calls from various human rights organisations Turkey continues attacking the camp, while both the Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdistan governments remain silent.
“This is a war crime,” say residents of the camp repeatedly, trying to get their voices heard in the outside world. Vesile Özdemir is one of them.
“They hit our door, pieces of shrapnel flew at us, our children were asleep. Some of our children were injured in the attack. We have been refugees for many years, we had to leave our villages, so we have come here. We call on the regional government and the Iraqi administration; They should get them to stop these attacks.” she says to Roj News.
She also criticises the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) for allying themselves with Turkey and remaining silent about the attacks.
“They should hold the hands of their brothers and sisters, not the enemy. They have been bombing our mountains for 3-4 months. They are attacking with chemicals. Our villages are being bombed, people are being forced to migrate. They’re settling hired mobs in evacuated villages. It’s a disgrace, we’re all Kurds. If we’re all Kurds, then let us unite. How much more shall we hope for respite from the enemy, they really won’t do us any good. They are our enemies, it’s because of their attacks that we left our villages,” she says.
Makhmour Camp is located approximately 40 miles from the city of Erbil (Hewlêr), the capital of the Federated Kurdistan Region, and 65 miles from Mosul. It has been under embargo since 17 July 2019.
The camp, recognised by the United Nations, and previously known as Atrush camp, holds Kurdish refugees who had to migrate from the border cities, towns and villages in southeast Turkey, such as Şırnak and Hakkari, after village burnings and evacuations that took place in 1993-1995.
The camp is also under attack by Turkey. Three women lost their lives and many others were injured in the bombardment on 15 April 2020. The camp was bombed many times subsequently, and more civilians have lost their lives.
Erdogan frequently targets the camp, and it has been under embargo for years. Although the camp is officially under a UN mandate, the UN has not yet taken any action whatsoever despite all the attacks and the embargo.