Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered financial support for all Kurdish families driven from their homes in Iraq’s northern semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in the wake of Turkish bombardments on rebel hideouts, his office said on 30 December.
“The prime minister has ordered the formation of a committee to visit these families and pay one million Iraqi dinars (about US$830) to every Kurdish family displaced by Turkish bombings,” the statement issued by al-Maliki’s office said.
The statement did not say how many families have been displaced, but said the aid would be distributed in coordination with the local Kurdish authorities.
Rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known by its Turkish acronym PKK, have been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey since the mid-1980s, and their insurgency has left thousands dead.
On 26 December Turkish jets hit suspected Kurdish rebel shelters on snow-covered, rugged mountains for a third time. Turkey had also launched a cross border raid and fired artillery at Kurdish rebel positions since the first air strike on 16 December.
According to Hamza Hamid Mohammed, a spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Arbil, only 450 families out of about 700 displaced families who have fled their border villages since 16 December, have received financial support. Others will receive it in the coming days.
“Some of these families have returned to their houses but with apprehension because of worries that the lull of the past few days could be broken,” Mohammed told IRIN in a phone interview from Arbil.
But these families are returning to damaged infrastructure and houses.
“The bombings have damaged some houses, bridges, health centres and schools. Many of these families have had their cattle killed and their children are out of school,” Mohammed said.
He said an operation room had been set up to investigate, and issue reports about, the damage to infrastructure and property.
“Our medical and aid teams are in the area trying to reach these families to supply them with food and non-food items such as blankets, mattresses, stoves, lanterns, jerry cans, plastic sheets, kitchen utensils and soap,” he said.
This new wave of displaced people adds to the approximately 2.4 million who have been driven from their homes to other parts of Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003. Some 2.2 million have also fled to neighbouring countries, mostly Syria and Jordan, according to the UNHCR.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions