Just when we thought Iraq and Kurdistan were turning a corner after ousting IS, we've ended up back at square one.
There's a lot happening in Kurdistan right now. The Kirkuk situation received ample coverge but the mainstream media has been inconsistent with what's happening elsewhere in the region. It's hard to bend the head around it, sitting in Dublin, but we've enough friends on the ground who are putting the word out to get an understanding of it.
As you may know The Iraqi Kurds held an independence referendum with hopes of finally seceding from Baghdad. 93% of Kurds voted to split much to the dismay of their Iraqi, Turkish and Iranian neighbours.
Fighting erupted in Kirkuk with Iraqi forces and Hash'd al Shaabi or PMU, an Iranian backed Shia militia taking the city after PUK Peshmerga pulled out. Iraqi forces then set out to take back all disputed territories promising to stop at the 2003 autonomous line. PMU have breached this line however and there are several reports of killing civilians and looting.
2 weeks ago PMU and Iraqi forces took control of Sinjar city and the mountain shortly after. Around the time of the referendum, thousands of Yazidi families left the camps to head back to Sinjar where there is no infrastructure whatsover. They felt they would be safer heading there as there was a growing fear that they would bear the brunt of a Turkish invasion, who began joint military exercises with the Iraqi army on the border the week of the referendum.
Some claim that this act of aggression is a retaliation for the referendum. Others say that this situation was inevitable once the grand threat of IS was eliminated. I'm leaning towards the latter here. Whatever way you look at it the Kurds, as always, have been shoved under the proverbial bus. The US, the coalition and Iraq got what they needed from them and have now closed the door.
In the Duhok/Zakho region, where there are over a million people displaced in several camps, the aggression continues. 2 months ago this was the safest part of Kurdistan but now it's the latest battlefield. Bajed Kandala Camp, who we've supported for the last 9 months is only 5 minutes away from heavy fighting, where the Iraqi army and their Iranian friends are shelling Peshmerga.
Joint Help For Kurdistan who we support in BK are now operating as a field hospital for those caught up in the violence and are on standby 24/7. JHK's work was to help people rebuild and move on from the atrocities they faced from evil in the past. Now they've been plunged back to square one while the UN and the international community sit firmly on the fence.
We will be announcing a new fundraising campaign next week pledging our continuous support to JHK and the Yazidi caught up in another and unnecessary war. We're starting it off with another run of limited edition T-shirts and our brand new hoodie, as well as our upcoming night in Index in Dublin on November 17th.
Check syriasvibes.com for more info. More to follow.
Below is an extraction from an article by Emmaly Read, American volunteer with JHK.
"The humanitarian crisis that is building in this region is extremely understated. Families that were never displaced are now being displaced. Families that were already displaced are being displaced again. There is food and water, however access to it will become increasingly difficult as trade routs are impeded by war and wells are abandoned. Winter is rapidly approaching, especially in the mountains where many IDPs already live, which will increase the death count due to freezing. Everything I have stated is only physical safety but I have not even mentioned the emotional and psychological trauma that is occurring due to flashbacks from Deash. These people need help and in a war environment humanitarians, like me, cannot operate properly. The world needs to step up the pressure on Iran, Baghdad, and the KRG to end the fighting to create an environment for volunteers and humanitarians to resume their aid."