ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Mayor of the disputed town of Khurmatu called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the Iraqi Government and international NGOs to deliver humanitarian assistance to the town’s displaced people and facilitate their safe return.
Shallal Abdul, the Mayor of Khurmatu, in a press conference following a meeting with Kurdish MPs from the Iraqi Parliament in Sulaimani on Monday, stressed the need for increased efforts to support Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who fled Khurmatu during and after the town's takeover by the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militia.
On Oct.16, Iraqi forces along with Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias took over Kirkuk Province and other disputed territories, including the town of Khurmatu.
The attack led to the displacement of 180,000 people in the affected areas, roughly 70,000 of them from Khurmatu, who feared abuses and violations at the hand of the militia groups.
“I call upon the KRG, the Iraqi government, Ministry of Displacement and Migration and international NGOs to put all their efforts to improve the situation of the IDPs and play their roles in delivering aid,” Abdul stated.
Asked about the conditions for Khurmatu IDPs to be able to return home, Abdul said that the only option was to create a joint force, or at least a balanced one with a Kurdish component, to take over the town’s security situation.
“The military and police forces currently in Khurmatu do not include Kurds,” he told reporters, emphasizing the need for an inclusive security apparatus to facilitate the return of IDPs.
“We will do our best to ensure the safe, dignified and free return of Kurdish IDPs to Khurmatu,” Abdul noted.
Helping IDPs return home, the normalization of the situation in Khurmatu, and Erbil and Baghdad engaging in talks are all factors that will facilitate resolving outstanding issues currently plaguing Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, according to the mayor.
Evidence has been documented and collected to provide proof of the crimes committed against Kurds in Khurmatu, Abdul added. “I think the abuses committed in Khurmatu constitute a war crime.”
“The Iraqi government has not taken any step to normalize the situation of Khurmatu. There was an effort to deploy Presidential Guards to the town, but they were prevented.”
Editing by Nadia Riva