Medicine supplies in Maxmur refugee camp exhausted

The embargo on the Maxmur refugee camp, which has been in place for eight months, increases the risk posed by Covid-19. Co-mayor Bedran Piranî warns that the supplies of medicines are exhausted.

The Corona pandemic is spreading in Iraq. While the official number of those infected is 154 and the number of those who have died of Covid-19 is 11, the number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher. In some cities there are already curfews due to the virus and every day new protective measures are taken. But the self-governing Maxmur refugee camp is left to its own devices. The camp, which was set up by people from Northern Kurdistan seeking protection, has now become a small self-governing town and an example of radical democratic self-organisation.

Under pressure from Turkey, the Maxmur camp was encircled by security forces of the KDP after the assassination in Hewlêr on 17 July 2019 of the Turkish secret service (MIT) officer responsible for South Kurdistan and has now been under total embargo for eight months. This mainly concerns the health care and general supply of the approximately 12,000 camp inhabitants. Against the background of the Corona Pandemic, the embargo takes on a new dimension. The inhabitants are restless, as the medicine supplies in the camp have been used up in the meantime and even medical staff are not allowed to leave or enter the camp.

The co-mayor of Maxmur, Bedran Piranî, explains: "We have no more medicines in our hospital. Our doctors are forbidden to leave the camp to get medicine. The embargo is getting worse every day. While the Kurdistan Regional Government has multiplied measures against the coronavirus during the past 15 days, nothing is being done for our camp. They don't treat us like humans. We've been under the embargo for eight months and don't get any humanitarian aid. The regional government of Southern Kurdistan even imposed a three-day curfew. We have problems with the supply of food, drinking water and medicine."

40 people under observation

Piranî reports that a crisis council has been set up in the camp. The inhabitants try to protect themselves as far as possible. Everyone who enters the camp is quarantined for 14 days. At the moment there are 40 people under observation, but there has not yet been a case in the camp. The schools in the camp have been closed for an indefinite period of time, the same applies to mosques, coffee houses, gambling rooms and similar facilities. Efforts are being made to disinfect the camp as much as possible. But here, too, the necessary means are lacking.

Embargo must be lifted

Piranî appeals to the United Nations, Iraq and the regional government: "This embargo must be lifted. We are awaiting a delivery of food, drinking water and medicines. All international organizations and human rights defenders should work to ensure that we receive humanitarian aid immediately."