Garbage piles up in IDP camps

Garbage pile in Kabartw camp for Internally Displaced Persons IDP, mainly Ezidis (Yazidis), Duhok, August 9,2023. Laith Hussein

By Laith Hussein

Garbage is spreading in some the displaced camps in Duhok Northern Province, which has worried the Internally Displaced Persons IDPs and they are asking for help to clean the camps.

According to the IDPs, the garbage collection companies have not been coming into the camps for two months.

Hamo Qasim, an IDP living in Kabartoo camp in Sumel district of Duhok province, said, “We are obliged to stay at home because of the odor inside the camp.”

We have to stay at home because of the bad smell of the camp

The IDP camps are currently managed by the Ministry of Interior of the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG.

“The aid of international organizations to the camps has decreased significantly, especially after the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine as they have shifted their operations and left Iraq, which affects the provision of services to the camp,” said Dayan Jafar, coordinator of the KRG office for IDP and refugees’ affairs.

"The Kurdistan Regional Government is under a lot of pressure. The Duhok Municipality will provide these services and we will serve them per our capacity as long as the IDPs stay.”

But for Hamo Qasim, what is happening is worrying. “Often, municipal vehicles do not enter the camps for two weeks.”

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Garbage collection in Kabartw IDP camp, Duhok, August 9, 2023. Laith Hussein

KirkukNow team visited both camps and noticed that dust and debris had accumulated inside the camp. There was also the same problem in Chamshko camp in Zakho. Several other camps insisted they had the same problem.

Diyar Saeed, head of the environment department of the General Directorate of Municipalities of Duhok province, told KirkukNow, “Now the municipality has taken over the cleaning of the camps instead of the Iraqi government and organizations.”

“We know through you that there is garbage piling in the camps. The camp administration should have given us that information. We will talk to the companies and municipalities near the camps and solve the problem.”

We know through you that there is dust and garbage in the camps

According to the KRG’s Interior Ministry, there are still 16 camps in Duhok province, where more than 26,000 families live, most of whom are Yazidis.

The Iraqi federal government wants to close all the IDP camps, including the KRG’s as part of its agenda. Baghdad accused Erbil of hindering IDP camps closure.

Nechirvan Kochar, director of Artush Company, which has the contract to clean the camps, told KirkukNow, “It seems there are some shortcomings in cleaning the camps so we will take necessary measures and punish those who were negligent.”

"We will solve the problem and ask the citizens of the camps to let us know if they have any comments, because we do not want to garbage to pile up in any area and pollute the environment," he added.

Over six million people were displaced in Iraq including the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR in 2014-2017 due to the war against the extremist militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS, about five million of them have returned home.

According to previous investigations KirkukNow, the IDPs in the camp live under tents

 in "bad" conditions, as hundreds of families suffer from lack of aid, insufficient drinking water and poor education, healthcare and food distributed by the Iraqi government, in addition to the harsh cold winter, scorching heat waves and the risk of fires in the summer.

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