With the deadly unprovoked strike of December 6, 2017 on the Makhmour Refugee Camp outside of the city of Makhmour in Iraqi Kurdistan, the enemies of the Kurdish people achieved a new landmark in savagery, disregard for human suffering and lack of respect for life itself.
The Makhmour Camp is a United Nations recognised refugee camp that, since 1998, has been home to a growing population that now totals approximately 13,000. Many of the residents of this camp originally left their homes in northern Kurdistan in 1993 and 1994 as a result of Turkey’s scorched earth campaign against the Kurdish people, which destroyed thousands of villages and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Over the past two decades, the refugee population has grown significantly, with many children being born into statelessness.
The people of the Makhmour Camp left one set of hardships in northern Kurdistan only to experience many others. After fleeing to Iraqi Kurdistan, they endured harassment and attacks at the hands of the Turkish armed forces, and were compelled to build new lives as refugees living in the prison that was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq until 2003. In August 2014, the camp was invaded and occupied by the ISIS terrorist group for a period of 3 days before their expulsion, after which the refugees were able to return to their homes. Nonetheless, the camp remained close to the front lines for many months to come, and ISIS continued to attack the camp, resulting in a number of deaths, and, in response to the ISIS threat, the Makhmour Self Defence Force, a local security force, was established.
Yesterday evening, the Makhmour Camp was targeted by an air attack which resulted in a number of dead, including 5 members of the Makhmour Self Defense Forces, and wounded, as well as significant structural damage. This attack on a civilian refugee camp where persecuted people, some of whom are stateless, live in a poverty and under perpetual threat, shows that the depravity of the perpetrators of this action knows no bounds. The same cruelty and bloodthirsty hatred that originally resulted in the displacement of the first refugees who arrived in Makhmour in 1998 remains alive and stronger than ever, as seen through the inhumane attacks of ISIS and this most recent massacre.
The perpetrators of this attack must be named and face justice. Similarly, the government of Iraq must take responsibility for this crime committed against one of the most vulnerable groups living within Iraq’s borders, who have now been targeted by a military strike using Iraqi airspace.
The Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI) condemns this attack on the Makhmour Refugee Camp in the harshest terms, and calls for an investigation into this terrible incident by the United Nations with the full cooperation of the Iraqi government as well as the government of Turkey, who have consistently expressed their hostility toward the refugees of Makhmour.
Washington Kurdish Institute
December 7, 2017
Video: Damage done by the attack on Makhmour Refugee Camp.