Peace in Kurdistan Campaign writes to UK Prime Minister demanding action to protect Maxmur Camp

The Peace in Kurdistan Campaign wrote a letter to the British Prime Minister demanding action to protect Maxmur Camp.

The Peace in Kurdistan Campaign wrote a letter to the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak demanding action to protect Maxmur Camp.

The letter said: "Peace in Kurdistan writes to draw the attention of yourself and your government to the plight of Maxmur Refugee Camp, in Northern Iraq.

The camp has led a precarious existence since it was established in 1998 under UN protection, but it has faced repeated air attacks from Turkey and pressure from the Iraqi authorities. The camp, located some 60 km from Erbil, is the home to around 12,000 Kurdish families who have fled the fighting inside Turkey. These vulnerable refugees are presently facing a threat to their very existence from the actions of the Iraqi military and persistent attacks from Turkish forces, including repeated aerial bombardments.

This renewed threat to the camp is a matter of profound concern and urgent action is needed to ensure the security of the people in the camp and allow them to live in safety under UN protection. The camp residents have clearly defined rights as refugees, and their status must be protected.

Within recent days, as widely reported, the Iraqi army has laid siege to the camp and, in an act of great provocation to the residents, hundreds of soldiers and armoured vehicles have been positioned while heavy construction equipment has been brought in to dig trenches and erect barbed wire fences and watchtowers around the camp. The Kurdish residents, who have been running their own administration in the camp, have been resisting these latest actions by the Iraqi army which pose a direct threat to their survival.

The camp has endured a heavy embargo since July 2019 which was imposed by the KDP who run the Erbil region. The people of the camp have faced severe restrictions on their movement and been prevented from travelling to KRG run cities in South Kurdistan to carry out their normal daily business such as purchasing goods and obtaining essential supplies.

Persistently, Turkey has been pressurising the Iraqi and UN authorities to evict Kurds from the camp, despite the fact that they are recognised as refugees by the UNHCR."

Peace in Kurdistan continued: "

The area around the camp has come under repeated aerial bombardment by Turkish forces over recent times including in August 2022 when a drone attack killed one person and in February 2022 which an air attack left at least two dead and caused numerous serious injuries.

The camp was formally established as a place of safety for Kurds fleeing attacks by Turkish armed forces and the residents have received protected status as UN recognised refugees. An embargo by the KDP led Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq and the recent siege by the Iraqi army are now exerting severe pressure on the refugees who must be allowed to access the means to ensure their survival in a secure and safe environment.

The residents of Maxmur Refugee Camp, who after so many years are unable to return home to safety, must continue to receive protection under international law like any other person of refugee status.

The UN needs to step up and fulfil its responsibilities. The Iraqi authorities, including the KRG, need to step back and lift the threat to the camp and its residents, whose living conditions are under extreme pressure and who at present have nowhere else to go where they can feel safe.

Peace in Kurdistan demands urgent action to relieve the persistent pressure on the Maxmur Camp residents and that proper protection is guaranteed until the residents are allowed to return home. Their most ardent wishes are to be able to live in safety in their own homes and villages. Unfortunately, this is obviously not a possibility as long as the conflict with Turkey in the Kurdish region continues and remains unresolved. Until that time, they must be protected.

The UN and Iraqi authorities must live up to their obligations."

Peace in Kurdistan called on the PM "and your government to exert influence to ensure the survival of the camp and that it remains a place of safety for these vulnerable people who literally have nowhere else to go."