By Vivek Thiagarajan
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Middle East
The Turkish military has attacked the northern Kurdish region of Iraq. The Turks have claimed that the attacks have killed hundreds of PKK militants, including up to 175 rebels killed on December 16 alone. (BBC-Turkish jets in fresh Iraq strike)
The attacks have destabilized the region and forced those who live in the area to seek safety.
“Since 16 December when Turkish warplanes renewed their bombing of the borders, nearly 700 families, about 4,000 people, have fled their villages, leaving everything behind,” said Mohammed Khalil, a spokesman for the Regional Displacement and Immigration Directorate. (IRIN)
The instability has forced many Iraqis to sell their homes and possessions in order to relocate during the attacks.
However, since many Iraqi Kurds in the northern mountainous region were farmers and shepherds, many of the people relocated have been forced to find new livelihoods. They have been forced to find the shelter from relatives while seeking to begin a new life from scratch.
For example in a phone interview, 65 year-old father of eight, Hama Numan Jalil, a relocated farmer from the border region explained his plight from his cousin’s home. “I lost all my animals last week: nine cows, 18 sheep and 14 goats which we depend on for a living . . . We left everything behind – our home, which is partially damaged, and our land, and now we have ended up here at my cousin’s home in the city; my cousin has 10 sons to feed already,” Jalil said. (IRIN) Jalil stated that he would probably have to remove his children from school to make sure that they could be able to survive.
The Turkish attacks have been condemned by leaders of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. However, these condemnations seem to not have dissuaded the Turks who seek to eliminate all strongholds of the PKK.
For more information, please see:
BBC News- Turkish jets fresh in Iraq- 26 December 2007
BBC News- Iraq Kurds warn Turkey over raids- 25 December 2007
IRIN News- IRAQ: Newly displaced in north considering alternative livelihoods-26 December 2007