Turkey: Doors Open for Makhmur Camp Residents

1299150030-daily-life-of-kurdish-refugees-in-mahmur-camp--iraq_609318The current chaos in Iraq may herald the safe return of thousands of Turkish citizens to their homeland, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay announced Aug. 8, saying that Ankara will implement an open door policy for those who have been living in the Makhmur camp for decades.

“There are new developments in Iraq. We have received information that as of yesterday [Aug. 7], the Makhmur camp has been evacuated. There are people who want to go to Turkey from there. Most of them are our citizens anyway. They had gone from neighborhood of Hakkari; they had gone from villages and towns like Çukurca and Uludere due to the deteriorating conditions,” Atalay told reporters during a visit to the southeastern Anatolian border province of Hakkari. “Our door will be open if they come back. They will enter from our borders,” Atalay added.

The deputy prime minister was referring to a U.N. refugee camp that was home to thousands of Kurdish people who had to leave their homes in Turkey during the 1990s due to clashes between the Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Yet, the Kurdish population in the Makhmur camp who are Turkish citizens have a complicated situation, since some of them are subject to lawsuits regarding the PKK, while there is a generation born in the camp who do not hold Turkish passport. As a matter of fact, up until the last few years, Turkey had long pressed for the closure of the Makhmur camp, claiming that it was under the PKK’s control and served as a supply base of fresh militants who would join the organization.

However, in recent years, the government has initiated a peace process, aimed at ending the three-decade-long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the PKK.