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Flooding ruins Yezidi IDP camp, kills villagers in northern Iraq

By Rudaw 23/11/2018
A displaced Yezidi man shows where they have been forced to hang their remaining belongings to dry after overnight flooding swept across northern Iraq and the Kurdistan Region on November 23, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV
A displaced Yezidi man shows where they have been forced to hang their remaining belongings to dry after overnight flooding swept across northern Iraq and the Kurdistan Region on November 23, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Overnight rain has flooded many camps and villages in northern Iraq and causing many deaths. In the Kurdistan Region, a camp with Yezidi IDPs was badly damaged in Duhok province.

The death toll in Saladin province has risen to eight.

“Eight people have died, 16 injured, and six are missing in the floods that hit Saladin province,” Jamal Augab, provincial spokesperson, told Rudaw.

Nearly 2,000 houses have been damaged and 6,000 people have been displaced, he added, calling on the central government to supply food and other essential items.

Iraq’s Health Ministry had earlier confirmed seven deaths from the floods. 

“The number of people who have died has now reached seven – five from Saladin province, one from Mithan, and one from Basra,” the ministry announced in a statement Friday evening.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi convened an emergency meeting to address the crisis. 

He ordered military rescue units and helicopters to help emergency services in the flood-affected areas of Saladin and Nineveh provinces, the ministry of housing and municipalities to immediately begin repairs to damaged infrastructure, and the ministry of migration to provide tents, food, and emergency supplies. 

His government also promised to provide assistance to help people recover after the water recedes. 

Yezidi IDPs say the heavy rains are a problem every year.

"This has been our life for three years. Nobody is helping us. We go to the manager [of the camp], he says go to the local mayor. Nobody recognizes us," one Yezidi man said on Saturday.

Waters, which have since largely receded, has ruined the tents and belongings of at least 30 families in Shekhan camp which has sheltered Yezidis.

Temperatures in northern parts of the Kurdistan Region dropped to 1 degree Celsius on Thursday night.


IDPs hang their thin, flood-soaked mattresses to dry on November 23, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV

Anytime it substantially rains, their tents become flooded. The IDPs said police visited the camp last night, but were unable to provide much assistance.

"None of our belongings are left. They are washed away," another displaced person said. 

They are praying for help from governmental and non-governmental entities. 

"The solution is with God, with the Kurdistan government, the central government, to help these powerless, wretched people," said another resident.


To the southeast in Saladin province, flooding has forced locals onto rooftops with top Sunni politicians requesting immediate federal assistance.


Seven people died in al-Shirqat because of the flash floods, Reuters has reported

“Some 3,000 people are now homeless after fleeing their villages,” the wire service quoted Shirqat Mayor Ali Dodah as saying.

In Tikrit, helicopters were used to facilitate rescues. Houses also reportedly collapsed in the southern province of Dhi Qar.

"Torrential rains are flooding the villages of al-Hourya, al-Iitha, and al-Jarnaf north of al-Sharqat, and residents are besieged on the rooftops," tweeted Ahmed al-Jabouri, an Iraqi MP from Mosul.

The villages are located in the predominately-Sunni Saladin province. The Sunni politician asked the federal government for assistance.

"We call on joint military operations, the army aviation, civil defense and government activities to help the residents from drowning and being swept away by the flood waters," he added.


Iraq Joint Operations Command later on Friday directed federal units to use boats and all other means to assist those affected by the flooding.


The rainy season has arrived in Iraq and many areas of the country lack infrastructure following cycles of violence and governmental corruption.

Al-Sharqat Bridge over the Tigris is out of service.

"The Al-Sharqat Bridge connecting the right side and left side has been damaged due to the torrential rains, and some smaller bridges in northern Sharqat areas are cut off as well," stated the office of Khamis al-Khanjar, the head of the Sunni National Axis Alliance.

They called for "an urgent relief campaign to aid the national effort in rescuing the disaster areas in al-Sharqat and the camps of Hamam al-Alil and al-Jadaa."

Update: 10:44 p.m.

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