Hacı Kaçan, the co-chair of the local assembly in Maxmur refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan has stated that, after an airstrike that targeted the camp, no precautions by the UN or the Iraqi government were taken. This was despite the fact that they had, prior to the attack, expressed concerns about the constant drone activity that had been occuring. He stated that the UN must now bear responsibility for the consequences of any future attacks.
The camp in Iraqi Kurdistan was reportedly targeted in an airstrike by Turkey around 08:00 am local time. No casualties were reported although the airstrike was stated to have caused damage to residences.
Hacı Kaçan stated that there has been constant drone activity around the camp recently. Iraqi government officials and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency) had been informed about this, he told Mesopotamia News Agency.
Protesting at the lack of any precautions that were taken by these authorities, Kaçan stated that they had faced a similar situation when they were under attack by the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014: “The objective was the same back then. They wanted the camp to be totally deserted, evacuated. (…)
“We know that [the ISIS] attack had been carried out with the knowledge of Turkey. The ISIS attacks, then the embargo imposed on the camp by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are all linked to one another. And now, they want to finish what ISIS failed to achieve then.”
The embargo by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Maxmur camp was imposed after an assault took place against three Turkish intelligence and embassy personnel in July 2019 in Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital, Erbil (Hewler).
Kaçan emphasized that all attacks against the camp, whether carried out by military jets or ISIS or the KDP, have occurred before the eyes of the UN and the Iraq government.
“We met with the UN officials earlier. We met with the officials of the Iraqi government. We provided them with documents,” he said. “We are a people who have been granted political refugee status by the UN, and we are supposed to be under its protection. Our ID documents are updated every year by the UN teams. They take our fingerprints. Turkey’s accusations are unfounded. The UN remains silent about these attacks. They are serving as accomplices to these acts.”
The Maxmur Refugee Camp, housing around 13,000 people, was set up in 1994 by Kurdish refugees who fled the hostility of Turkish army units during military operations in southeastern Turkey. The camp eventually received the support of UNHCR, which provided the refugees with legal documentation in 2011, which in turn allowed them to access education and health services. Holders of the residency permits are also permitted to apply for work provided by the Iraq government.