Baghdad: The Makhmur camp, southwest of Arbil, is bracing for a new wave of refugees as a result of growing tension along the Iraq-Turkey border, camp officials have said.
The two-square kilometre camp, which is run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is home to Kurdish refugees from Turkey who fled their villages following clashes between the Turkish troops and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters.
"We have taken more measures to meet further and possible large-scale refugee movement across the border," Salar, an employee at the Makhmur refugee camp, told Gulf News.
"Turkish Kurds living in the mountainous areas close to Kurdistan border may escape from military operations carried out by Turkish troops in the coming weeks and flee to Makhmur camp," he said.
"Few days ago, villages in Arbil mountains were bombarded by Turkish air and artillery units which forced Turkish Kurds to cross into Iraqi Kurdistan and seek asylum in the camp," Salar said.
"If the tension prevails in the region, our camp will receive hundreds of families and this is a grave problem for Iraq as well as the international community."
Over the years, Turkish Kurds in Makhmur camp have integrated into the Iraqi Kurdistan society.
"I am a Kurd from Turkey and I married an Iraqi Kurd. We have been living together in Arbil for eight years now," Ceyhan Turbal, a Turkish Kurd told Gulf News.
"There are strong social and humanitarian ties and I think if the Iraqi Kurdistan region obtains its full constitutional rights, it will become a safe haven for many Turkish Kurds who face continuous human rights violations by Turkish troops," she said.
According to sources in Arbil, the capital of Kurdistan territory, the Iraqi Kurdistan government facilitated humanitarian asylum for Turkish Kurds. Hundreds more are waiting to obtain Iraqi citizenship, particularly those who are married to Iraqi Kurds.