Iraqi Government Trying to Push Kurdish Refugees Out of Waleed Camp

16/08/2012 RUDAW – Iraq-Syria border — Iranian Kurdish refugees residing in Waleed camp suffer from lack of services such as drinking water, electricity and a medical center. In addition, Iraq’s Ministry of Interior is pressuring them to leave.

Waleed is located in Anbar province in the west, near the Syrian border. The camp — which accommodates 120 Palestinian families, 24 Kurdish families and 19 Arab families from Ahwaz, Iran — was established in June 2009.

For the past three months, the Iraqi government has been using various tactics to force the families to leave the camp, such as removing basic services like electricity and water. However, residents of the camp have been defying the government’s decision.   After Iraq’s liberation in 2003, Anbar province became unstable due to its location on the border with Syria. Iman Muhammad, a Kurdish resident in the camp, described the conditions as “horrible.” “Even wild animals couldn’t survive in such conditions,” she said.

Members of Muhammad’s family were refugees in the camp Al-Tash in Diyala province when Iman was born 23 years ago. Now a grown woman, her situation has not changed and her family still lives in the refugee camp.

She told Rudaw, “The worst life that you can imagine is our life in Waleed. We are all illiterate. Our children have no education programs. When we become ill, we don’t have medication or doctors to treat us. I am surprised that the condition of life here has not driven us to commit suicide.”    Muhammad, who used to be a member of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), believes it is Iran that is pressuring Baghdad to have the refugees leave the camp. Residents of the camp said that the Iraqi government turned off their electricity in April and that it didn’t return until the beginning of Ramadan.

Bisak Qamar, an 11-year-old child in the camp, said, “Learning Arabic is the only education we have and we will not receive any school certificate for that. We are missing out in life. I want to live in Europe. They have all sorts of activities and games for children there. I want to go there.” 

Muhammad Khorsandi, who raises awareness about the awful conditions of the camp, recorded an official from Iraq’s Ministry of Interior threatening residents of the camp if they refused to leave.

Khorsandi said, “He gathered us and strongly urged us to leave. But we said we wouldn’t leave unless they sent us to another country.”The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) promised the people temporary settlement in the camp until transferred to a third country. But the residents of the camp said the UNHCR didn’t fulfill its promise.Dindar Doski, Iraq’s minister of immigration, said Waleed is out of his jurisdiction and therefore he cannot help them.

Doski, a Kurdish minister in the Iraqi government, told Rudaw, “I have information that the Iraqi government and UNHCR have reached an agreement to get rid of the refugees by sending the Palestinian families to Baghdad, the Arabs from Ahwaz to Basra and the Kurds to the Kurdistan Region. However, the Kurds refused to be sent to the Kurdistan Region and that created a problem for the Ministry of Interior.”  Muhammad said, “We know many Iranian Kurdish refugees who live in Kurdistan Region refugee camps have terrible conditions. We don’t want to end up like them. We want to be sent to another country or else we will never leave.”The Kurdish residents of the camp are all from Iranian Kurdistan and settled as refugees in southern Iraq in 1981