IRAQ URGENT ACTION: CPT to move into IDP Camp, asks constituents to contact governments, media

CPTnet
11 June 2009
IRAQ URGENT ACTION: CPT to move into IDP Camp, asks constituents to contact governments, media

The people of the Zharawa Internally Displaced People's (IDP) tent camp fear for their lives as temperatures begin to exceed 38 degrees Celsius/100 degrees Fahrenheit.  The camp has no shade trees or structures and no electricity for refrigeration of food.  One hundred thirty-seven families share forty-five tents.  Many of the people are elderly and children, who are most susceptible to disease.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) will move into the IDPs tent camp on 14 June 2009.  They will join voices with camp members to ask the local, national and international communities to help relocate the IDPs to a more livable and humane environment.  

Background:
The people of the villages along the northern Iraqi Kurdistan border have been subjected to repeated military attacks from their neighboring countries, Turkey and Iran, for over two decades.  Turkey identifies the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) and Iran cites Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) as their targets.  Both these groups are in armed conflict with the governments of these two nations in response to Turkish and Iranian repression of their Kurdish populations and are on the U.S. and E.U. lists of terrorist organizations.  Since 2007, when the United States began sharing military intelligence with Turkey, the attacks have become more aggressive, resulting in death, injury, and extensive property damage to civilians and their homes.  These attacks violate human rights and international law under “Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of International armed conflicts” (See http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/93.htm, especially Articles 35, 48, 51, 52, 54, 57.)  Thousands of civilian villagers from the Pshdar district have not been able to return to their villages.  The IDPs from the town of Zharawa in Pshdar are 137 families from eleven villages numbering more than 600 people.

In 2008, UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) and a private company, Qandil, were contracted to build an IDP camp in Zharawa.  The conditions at the camp are terrible.  There is no shade and summer temperatures can reach 48 degrees Celsius/118 degrees Fahrenheit.  "We spend most our day looking for shade for our children," one parent told CPT’s Iraq team.  There is no electricity to refrigerate food.  Latrines are dangerously close to tents.  The people anticipate rampant illness and worry about how the elderly will survive.  There is no employment and whatever resources people had are dwindling away.  "Some families cannot buy one kilo of fruit," one man told the CPTers.  There is no sign people will be able to return to their homes any time soon.  Another immediate solution is clearly needed before people become sick start dying.  See pictures of the camp here.

What you can do:

1. Call your congressional representatives or parliamentarians and make the following points:

-Tell them that displaced people are in a terrible situation and need adequate care and compensation for their losses.

-Ask that they support a peace process between Turkey and the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) in light of PKK unilateral ceasefire and calls for dialogue.  (See http://tinyurl.com/nke75t and http://tinyurl.com/n9wz5b.)  The PKK has offered to lay down its arms in exchange for amnesty.  Peace would allow thousands of villagers to return home to their traditional way of life and culture.  

-U.S. citizens can note that the U.S. should protect citizens of a country it has occupied instead of sharing intelligence with a foreign military that is bombing civilian's homes.

Canadian Members of Parliament are available at www.parl.gc.ca/Common/index.asp?Language=E.  U.S. Senate and House of Representatives contacts are available at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.  U.K. Parliament contacts are available at www.parliament.uk.

Two toll-free U.S. Congressional numbers are 1-800-828-0498 and 1-866-340-9281.  Ask for the House of Representatives or the Senate and give the name of your Representative or Senator.

2.  Those constituents who have international media contacts such as BBC or CNN (television and other visual media are best) should alert them to the grave situation facing the IDPs.  Ask that they expose the terrible conditions of the camp to inspire governments and the international community to provide an adequate solution for the people and put a human face on the cost of an international conflict.

3.  Share your media contacts with the team.

Team contact info:
Craig Kite
cptiraq@cpt.org
011 964 770 762 0642

Below is a sample press release for your use.



International NGO moves into refugee camp to stay until humanitarian needs met

Suleimaniya, Iraq- International peace advocates from the organization Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) will move into an internally displaced persons (IDP) tent camp in the Suleimaniya Governorate, near the Iranian border, on 14 June 2009.  Iranian missiles and Turkish bombs displaced 137 families in the camp from their home villages in 2008.

"We will stay until the people are cared for.  They need a safe living situation.  There is no sign that people will be able to return home soon, because bombing continues where their homes are.  This camp is temporary at best.  Basic needs are not met here," notes CPTer Craig Kite from Washington DC.  The camp has no shade.  One parent told CPTers, "We spend most our day trying to find shade for our children.”  Summer temperatures in the region can reach to 48 degrees Celsius/118 degrees Fahrenheit.  The camp has no electricity or means to refrigerate food.  Latrines are dangerously close to tents.  Every three families share two small tents.  Families fear that sickness is sure to spread through the camp soon and they worry about how elderly people will survive.   

CPT calls on all international and local media to come to the camp and show the world that this international conflict has a human face.  

See pictures of the camp at http://cpt.org/gallery/album287?page=1 

Contact CPT:

Craig Kite
cptiraq@cpt.org
011 964 770 762 0642

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