ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq's Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has claimed that a blaze that killed six detainees at a Baghdad homeless women's detention center was set intentionally by inmates inside.
Media reported that the fire erupted soon after women began rioting to protest their treatment in the facility.
A source who had previously visited the detention center and was nearby at the time of the fire told Kurdistan 24 that living conditions there were dismal and that there had been claims of the women being subjected to sexual assault.
The building is located in the district of Adhamiya and is where police and other security forces bring homeless females they apprehend after finding them living on the street. It is adjacent to an orphanage and is administered and supervised by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
“The women deliberately set fire to the building in order to get out of the area, but the fire killed six of them and 50 more women were rescued,” Falih al-Amiri, a senior ministry undersecretary, said in a press conference on Saturday.
He added that Labor and Social Affairs Minister Bassem Abdul-Zaman had ordered an "urgent investigation" into the incident which will include questioning the survivors, but did not address the issue of the facility's living conditions.
Amiri also noted that the women have been temporarily transferred to another location until the building is sufficiently repaired for their return.
Editing by John J. Catherine