Makhmour Refugee Camp located over 100 miles south of the Turkish border in northern Iraq hosts thousands of Kurdish refugees forcibly displaced by the Turkish army from their villages in southeast Turkey in the 1990s. The Kurdish people who left their homes 30 years ago are today facing the same threat again. In the last 6 months alone, 12 people have been killed and 2 wounded in attacks on the camp by the Turkish state.
The refugee camp which has a population of around 10,000 has also been subjected to an embargo enforced by the Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP since 7 July 2019.
Due to the heavy embargo imposed by the KDP, residents of the Makhmour refugee camp are being deprived of the most basic of rights such as access to medical treatment.
Ayten Bulut, a camp resident whose house was targeted in the latest airstrike is asking for international support to pressurise Turkey to halt the attacks against the refugee camp.
“We’re dealing with the same mentality. Houses were bombed in 1994, and now our school playgrounds are bombed in 2021.No one has the right to commit these crimes and rights violations. We have been fighting against persecution for years. Despite that, we’ve created a life for our children. No one has the right to waken our children to the sound of bombs.” she says.
Although the camp is officially under a UN mandate, the UN has not taken any action whatsoever so far despite of all of the attacks and embargoes.
Beşir Taş is another resident of the camp who thinks that since Kurdish people do not submit to Turkey’s will, Turkey continues to attack them.
“Whenever there is a patriot, whenever there is a Kurd who resists, they target them. Despite all the attacks of the Turkish State they could not reach their goals.”
Medine Kara on the other hand says angrily that they will continue to resist against this oppression.
“Even if they send hundreds of planes over us and they attack us from both the air and ground, Erdoğan will not affect us.”
The camp, officially 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 the systematic village burnings and evacuations that took place between 1993-1995.
On 1st of June 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Turkey is planning an operation against the camp. He defined the camp as a ‘hole’ for Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) members.