Mr. Filippo Grande
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Twitter: @FilippoGrandi or @Refugees
Urgent Call to UNHCR to stop Iraqi Army’s aggression against the Kurdish refugees in Makhmour
This morning the Iraqi Armed Forces surrounded the UNHCR Makhmour (Mexmur) Refugee Camp with tens of armoured vehicles, special forces and police personnel, and barbed wire fences.
Over two decades after being forced from their homes in 1994 in North Kurdistan (Turkey), the people of the Mexmur Camp are forced to endure new threats and challenges.
Since its establishment, this civilian refugee camp has been a perpetual target of the Turkish state. Turkish warplanes and drones (including armed drones) often fly above the camp, terrorising the refugees of Mexmur and leaving them to wonder when the next attack will come. The stated goal of the Turkish state, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his AKP-MHP regime, has always been the destruction of the camp and the elimination or dispersal of its residents. The full might of Turkey’s modern military is used against this refugee camp, and it has also been regularly attacked by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Iraq, which cooperates closely with the Turkish regime.
What the Turkish state could not achieve, the Iraqi government is now aiming to accomplish.
The Mexmur Camp, home to approximately 11,000 people including thousands of children born into statelessness, is officially under the authority of UNHCR. Unfortunately, however, the agency’s silence and inaction following threats and attacks against the camp show it to be more aligned with the ruling parties of the region than with its stated mission of saving the lives and protecting the rights of refugees.
UNHCR has the responsibility and the diplomatic and political means to stop Iraq, which signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the agency to enhance the protection of refugees in 2016, from violating the rights of the Mexmur refugees and must intervene immediately to save the lives of people whose homes in exile have now been surrounded by the Iraqi Armed Forces. This unwarranted, aggressive action by Iraq against a large civilian population coupled with the Iraqi security forces’ dismal human rights record is cause for serious concern, and immediate intervention is imperative.
In order to prevent any escalation that could endanger the lives of thousands of refugees, UNHCR must immediately intervene to protect the people of the Mexmur Camp.
Executive Council of the Kurdistan National Congress- KNK