The Duhok provincial administration has agreed to convert the tents of the internally displaced persons IDPs in the camps into concrete blocks at the request of the IDPs and the immigration office in order to prevent fires and casualties.
The approval came a few days ago, after a delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government's KRG Migration and Refugees Office visited the governor.
Dian Jaafar, director of the Migration and Crisis Response Office in Duhok, told Kirkuk Now, “We met with the governor in order to reduce the number of fires in the camps and solve this problem and following in detail discussions he agreed to replace tents with concrete blocks.”
Dozens of fires have been recorded in the refugee camps, the largest of which was on June 4, 2021, when 288 tents home to 136 families has completely burnt and 90 other families lost part of their belongings. Later, each family was replaced by several small block rooms.
"The tents to be replaced with concrete blocks according to international standards and on the same location. No refugee should trespass on others’ land. The guidelines and procedures will be determined in advance," Jaafar said.
The date of the conversion of the tents into blocks is unknown and they are waiting to discuss the details with the United Nations UN and the Barzani Foundation, a local aid NGO, which both oversee the affairs of the refugee camp.
About 200 families lost 400 tents and their entire household, in the camp of Sharia for Yazidi IDPs in Duhok province leaving them homeless again and causing 750-million Iraqi Dinar losses.
The huge blaze erupted on June 4th is blamed by the residents for electrical short circuit yet still being investigated by civil defense.
The Ezidi IDP families lost their tents in Sharia camp fire in Duhok last June were pleased that their tents were replaced with small houses built by concrete blocks following the fire.
There are 26 refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region, 16 of which are located in Duhok province. Over 40% of the IDPs 664,000 IDPs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq KRI are in Duhok province.
Bewar Abdulaziz, spokesman for the Duhok Civil Defense, said the conversion of the tents to blocks is a good step to prevent fires and damage.
“We have only three firefighting trucks in all camps, so we need more fire trucks. We should also open awareness courses for the refugees to know what to do in case of fire," Abdulaziz said.
“Converting the tents into blocks is the best solution and we believe it will reduce fire incidents by 90%,” said the director of the immigration office in Duhok.
According to KirkukNow, no decision has been made yet on the fate of the tents in the camps in Duhok and Sulaimani.
"The land in the refugee camps is partly owned by the government and partly by farmers. We must negotiate with the owners of the land and after the refugees return to their homes and close the camps, the government should clean up the land," Jaafar added.
Except for Ninewa, all camps in other Iraqi provinces have been closed and their residents have returned to their home towns, except for the camps in the KRI which have remained open per an agreement between Baghdad and Erbil.