26-year-old Yezidi IDP dies in fire at displacement camp in Zakho

As a result, a 26-year-old man named Selah Cirdo Xelef lost his life.
Three tents were burned in the fire (Photo: Iraqi News Agency)
Three tents were burned in the fire (Photo: Iraqi News Agency)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A 26-year-old man died when a fire broke out in the Cham Mishko Yezidi internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in the Zakho district of the Kurdistan Region's Duhok province on Wednesday. 

A Kurdistan 24 reporter in Zakho reported that the fire broke out in three tents due to an electrical short circuit. As a result, 26-year-old Selah Cirdo Xelef lost his life.

Hundreds of thousands of Yezidis remain displaced in the Kurdistan Region despite the liberation of Sinjar from ISIS in November 2015.

The camp in Zakho hosts around 20,000 IDPs who fled ISIS's infamous genocide of Sinjar's Yezidis in August 2014.

Fires are common in displacement camps in the Kurdistan Region, both from heaters and poor electrical systems. Several displaced Yezidi civilians have died in recent years, and hundreds of tents burned.

In early March, a fire burned three tents in the Cham Mishko camp. An electrical short circuit also caused that fire.

In January, a six-year-old Yezidi child was killed when a fire broke out at a camp near Sheikhan in the Kurdistan Region's Duhok province.

Read More: 6-year-old Yezidi child dies in fire at Kurdistan Region displacement camp

During a visit to the US in early April, Duhok Governor Dr. Ali Tatar called on the US to continue its humanitarian assistance to IDPs and underlined Duhok's role as a home to "500,000+ displaced people and peaceful coexistence among the religious and ethnic minorities."

He added that "26% of the population of Duhok is made up of IDPs and refugees,"

Read More: Duhok Governor asks US to continue supporting IDPs and Peshmerga

In March 2020, the Iraqi government endorsed a national plan to address displacement in Iraq drafted by the Ministries of Planning and of Migration and Displacement. The Migration and Displacement Ministry announced the closures in mid-October 2020 and closed 16 camps by January 2021. At least 34,801 displaced people were left without assurances that they could return home safely, attain other safe shelters, or access affordable services.

Baghdad has asked the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to close camps in its region. Kurdish officials say they will not force IDPs to return home. The KRG said camps in the Kurdistan Region would remain in operation for as long as needed. However, it said it requires increased international funding to do so.

Read More: Duhok governor pledges not to close camps before displaced Iraqis can safely return home

The necessities for many residents of the Kurdistan Region-based IDP camps are provided by the UN humanitarian agencies, various international organizations, and the Barzani Charity Foundation. However, most of the costs are covered by the KRG. The Government of Iraq has never allocated any budget for running IDP camps in the Kurdistan Region.

Additional reporting by Dler S. Mohammed