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Yesterday, Ezidis from Sinjar protested against their living conditions in a refugee camp in Zakho after heavy rains flooded their provisional homes. An estimated number of 65,000 Ezidis lives in the Kurdish town of Zakho, scattered in several refugee camps which mostly consist of half-finished buldings and non-weatherproof tents.

Refugee protest in Zakho
Refugee protest in Zakho

Kurdish security forces, the so called Asayesh, arrived shortly after the protests had begun. Riots then temporarily erupted between the demonstrators and security forces, ending in the arrest of two individuals. The demonstrators fear potential deaths if the situation continues to remain. Especially small children suffer from the weather conditions, the upcoming winter causes an additional concern among the refugees. Previously, two children had already lost their lives in a camp that was built for refugees from Syria, eyewtinesses reported. A confirmation from responsible officials has not followed yet.

Moreover, the demonstrators in Zakho were prohibited to take pictures and videos of the arrest, as an Ezidi who is standing on the ground reported. He, however, secretly managed to film a short sequence of that happening. The Peshmerga commander Ashti Kochar considered the protests as a `conspiracy organized by the PKK´, the Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported. In addition to that, Rudaw, which the biggest Kurdish media outlet, tries to represent the demonstrations as a `protest against the Peshmerga´ and denunciate the demonstrators and their legitimate claims. As Rudaw reported, people in Mount Sinjar allegedly protested too. However, Ezidi resistance fighters rejected those claims in a phone conversation with ezidiPress, stating that people in the mountains had enough issues.

Heavy rains have dramatically deteriorated the already poor living conditions in refugee camps of the Kurdish autonomous region. Neither the Kurdish government nor relief organizations operating on the ground are able to cope with the masses of refugees. Over 1.5 million refugees are more or less accomodated alone in the provinces of the Kurdish autonomous region. Without the help of the local Kurdish population, many of the refugees would have already died of hunger, thirst or inssufficient medical care, as refugees from Sinjar tell again and again.

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