Arbil, Iraq: A fire at an Iraqi displacement camp for Yazidis who fled persecution at the hands of the Islamic State group destroyed 350 tents and injured 25 people on Friday, officials told AFP.
A short circuit triggered the fire at the Sharia camp in Dohuk province, in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region, officials said.
The camp is home to some 12,000 members of the Yazidi minority who are still displaced some three and a half years after Iraq declared victory over the jihadist group.
“Out of 4,000 tents, 350 were completely destroyed and 25 people were lightly injured, including eight who were taken to hospital with breathing difficulties,” camp official Serdar Mohammed told AFP.
“The fire was caused by a short circuit,” said Karouan Atroushi, a spokesman for provincial authorities, adding that helicopters and fire trucks had been mobilized.
Authorities have opened an investigation and new tents are expected to be pitched in the coming days after the area is cleared, the officials said.
Yazidis are monotheistic but they believe God entrusted the world to seven angels, drawing accusations of “devil worship” from followers of other monotheistic faiths.
Around 550,000 had been living in Iraq’s rugged northwest, concentrated around the enclave of Sinjar.
But in 2014, IS swept through Sinjar and, branding the Yazidis as infidels, killed the men, took the boys as child soldiers, and forced the women into sexual slavery.
Several thousand Yazidis were killed and nearly 100,000 fled abroad, with others internally displaced in Iraq. Some 360,000 are displaced in the autonomous Kurdistan region.
UN investigators have concluded there is “clear and convincing evidence” that IS committed “genocide” against the Yazidis.
Destructive and sometimes deadly blazes are common in Iraq, where decades of war have devastated infrastructure.
Between January and March alone, the interior ministry recorded 7,000 fires.
Ablaze at a Covid-19 hospital in Baghdad in April killed 82 people.