Duhok's Yezidi Bajid Kandala camp to be upgraded following third fire this year

The latest fire destroyed 25 tents on Thursday, affecting at least 50 families, a firefighting authority told Kurdistan 24. 
author_image Kurdistan 24
An aerial view of the burned tents in the  Bajid Kandala internally displaced person camp in the Kurdistan Region's Duhok province, June 30, 2022 (Photo: Star Ahmed/Kurdistan 24)
An aerial view of the burned tents in the Bajid Kandala internally displaced person camp in the Kurdistan Region's Duhok province, June 30, 2022 (Photo: Star Ahmed/Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – There are plans to upgrade the Yezidi Bajid Kandala internally displaced person camp in the Kurdistan Region's Duhok province after it suffered three separate fires since the start of the year. 

The sprawling camp is home to 1,600 Yezidi families, a total of 8,450 people, according to figures from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 

The latest fire destroyed 25 tents on Thursday, affecting at least 50 families, a firefighting authority told Kurdistan 24. 

An electrical short circuit is believed to be behind the latest inferno that hospitalized seven people, the camp's medical center told Kurdistan 24. 

"Totally & easily avoidable tragedies!" tweeted UNHCR Representative in Iraq Jean-Nicolas Beuze following the blaze, which raged for nearly two hours before firefighters could extinguish it.

On Thursday, the Duhok governorate decided to permit the camp's residents to upgrade their shelters to prevent similar fires from causing such devastation in the future. However, the residents will bear all the costs of building concrete shelters, Kurdistan 24 has learned. 

Most of the land on which the camp was built is rented, which complicated the construction of any permanent structures.

Among other things, Thursday's fire burned a 12th-grade student's textbooks that he was studying for his final examinations, which began on June 27 and are ongoing.

"As you see, all my [text] books are burnt in this room in which I was studying [for my exams], and I do not know where to study [from now on]," Leith Hussein told Kurdistan 24 while standing on the debris of his former room. 

Bajid Kandala was originally established as a temporary shelter for Syrian refugees fleeing their country's civil war, which began in 2011. 

Sharya Camp, another Yezidi camp, has also suffered frequent fires. Last year, one such fire burned more than 400 tents and injured a number of displaced Yezidis. 

Lack of reconstruction, instability, and militia threats have made it difficult for Yezidis to resettle in the Sinjar region almost eight years after ISIS began its genocide there in August 2014. 

Yezidis have suffered over 70 genocides throughout their history. 

On World Refugees Day, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani urged the international community and the Iraqi government to aid the Kurdistan Region to fulfill the $1.5 billion it needs to provide services for the displaced communities it has been hosting since 2014. 

"Many of us in the Kurdistan Region were refugees once too," he said. 

Additional reporting by Maher Shingali