Turkey plans Iraq camp to prevent refugee flow

Turkey plans Iraq camp to prevent refugee flow

Sevil Erkuş ANKARA
Turkey plans Iraq camp to prevent refugee flow

This image made from video taken on Aug. 3 shows Iraqis people from the Yazidi community arriving in Irbil in northern Iraq after Islamic militants attacked the towns of Sinjar and Zunmar. AP Photo

Turkey is accelerating its plans to help construct a new refugee camp in northern Iraq for Turkmens who were forced to flee north after the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIL) captured the Sinjar region.

With the move, the government is hoping to prevent a new influx of refugees into the country, by transferring more aid to Iraqi Turkmens within the border of the neighboring country, not on Turkish territory.

The Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) will set up a new, 20,000-person refugee camp for Turkmens in the Fishkabur region of Dohuk province in the Kurdish autonomous region.

The camp will be ready in one week’s time and will be operated by Iraqi Turkmens, state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Turkey had earlier set up another camp for Iraqi Turkmen in Sinjar.

Some 200 Turkmen families fled to the region near the Turkish-Iraqi border on the weekend when ISIL militants swept into the region between Sinjar and Mosul, but there is no accumulation of refugees at either the Zakho or Habur crossings between Turkey and Iraq, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News.

When asked about the Iraqi Turkmens who want to take shelter in Turkish territory, a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News in July that the Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region was embracing those fleeing from southern Iraq and establishing infrastructure, while Turkey was giving support by sending humanitarian aid to the refugees.

“Our policy is that suffering Iraqi citizens take shelter in secure regions within Iraq and maintain their life there,” the diplomat said at that time. Ankara does, however, provide visas for Iraqi citizens who want to travel to Turkey, the diplomat added.

Ahmet Bayraktar from the Turkmen Nationalist Party suggested that some groups of Turkmen refugees that wanted to cross into Turkey were initially blocked by Iraqi Kurdish officials at checkpoints and asked for guarantors from Sulaymaniyah or Arbil.

Iraqi citizens who have passports are able to travel to Turkey, but those who did not have passports are experiencing problems, Bayraktar said.

Meanwhile, Turkmen Front leader and Iraqi MP Erşad Salihi has applied to the United Nations’ Iraq representative to establish a buffer and no-fly zone for the community.

Salihi requested that the zone be similar to the one afforded to the Iraqi Kurds in 1991.