ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – More than 800 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Mosul in the Hassan Sham camp southwest of Erbil suffered from food poisoning on Monday.
A group of volunteers prepared the food in Erbil and then transferred it to the camp in the afternoon as part of a charitable initiative.
In a press conference on Tuesday morning, Erbil Governor Nawzad Hadi explained that the food was cooked in the early morning, at 9:00 am, and then transferred to the camp at 1:00 pm.
The food was distributed far later, between 4:00 and 5:00 pm.
He suggested the delay between the preparation of the meals and their distribution, along with the improper storing of the food, might be the reason why 825 IDPs became ill.
He also stated an investigation into the incident had been launched, and that legal measures will be taken against those responsible.
Hadi noted that the food should be prepared in the camps and that premade meals are forbidden.
He thanked Peshmerga and security members for quickly transporting 638 IDPs to hospitals in Erbil so they could receive prompt medical treatment.
The Erbil Health Department's Director-General Saman Hussein Barzinjy told Kurdistan24 that the group which delivered the donation did not take into consideration health hazards related to food prep and distribution.
Barzinjy mentioned that one of the camp's inhabitant had died from food poisoning. A statement released on Tuesday, however, apologized for the misinformation, assuring no one had died and corrected the record, stating the condition of the child who was thought dead is "stable."
Erbil Police Director-General Abdulkhaliq Talat informed Kurdistan24 that seven people had been arrested regarding the incident and that the investigation is ongoing.
Hassan Sham is one of the IDP camps in the Kurdistan Region which hosts thousands of IDPs, mostly those who fled the Islamic State (IS) in Mosul since the start of the operations to retake the city from the militants in October 2016.
The Kurdistan Region is home to almost 2 million IDPs and refugees who escaped from the IS threat in Iraq and Syria.
Editing by G.H. Renaud