ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Independent High Commission for Human Rights in Iraq on Tuesday submitted an urgent appeal to Baghdad to act as fires continue to devastate farm fields and crops in Nineveh province.
Ali Abdelkarim Mezer, the Deputy Chief of the Iraqi human rights commission, called on the federal government to act quickly and “contain the fires that have consumed thousands of acres of farmland and its crops in the Sinjar (Shingal) and Ba’aj-District.”
“The blaze began on Tuesday morning and spread quickly,” Mezer said in a statement, noting there were not enough fire trucks in the province to control the flames.
According to the deputy chief, the human rights commission had previously requested the government to take action, warning that the fires at the farms would impact food supply in Iraq as well as the livelihood of farmers as it is their primary source of income.
However, he noted that the government has yet to respond to their appeals.
Mezer requested Baghdad to send relevant authorities, including additional fire trucks and civil defense teams to prevent further fire-related incidents from spreading and causing damage to critical infrastructures such as water supplies and power lines in the area.
Sources in the area told local media the fires began on Tuesday morning in the districts of Shingal, Gayara, and Haazer before they spread toward the Syrian border. The first blaze was reported in the Um-Amer village in Shingal, with the flames consuming a house on its way to the other regions.
Civil defense units in Nineveh were able to contain fires in two areas and had requested the Kurdistan Region governorates of Erbil and Duhok to wait on standby and provide them with additional support if necessary.
Over the past few months, crop fire incidents have increased substantially in the areas liberated from the so-called Islamic State.
With significant security gaps in the disputed territories between the autonomous Kurdish government and the federal government, farmers have lost thousands of acres of wheat and grain to fires.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany