Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Iranian Asylum-Seeker Dies after Setting Himself on Fire outside UN Office

Mon 24 May 2021 | 11:28 AM

On Monday, an asylum-seeker from Iranian Kurdistan died in Erbil of injuries he sustained from setting himself on fire outside the United Nations Refugee Agency office five days earlier.

Behzad Mahmoodi, 25, from the Kurdish region of Boukan in Iran, set himself on fire last Tuesday in front of the UNHCR headquarters in the Kurdistan Region’s capital in protest of the organization’s delay in processing his refugee case.

Mahmoodi suffered burns on more than 90 percent of his body, medics said. He died at the Erbil Emergency Center late Sunday of complications from his injuries, police spokesperson Hogar Aziz told Kurdistan 24.


The man’s self-immolation sparked protests among fellow Iranian Kurdish asylum-seekers in front of the UN compound last week, reiterating their demands for resettlement and better conditions in the country.


The incident also sparked outrage throughout the Kurdistan Region as residents decried the decision of journalists who were present but did not stop Mahmoodi from setting himself ablaze.


Thousands of Kurds from Iran have left for the Kurdistan Region, some motivated by political opposition to the government, but also for economic reasons as years of sanctions have taken a toll on Tehran’s finances. More than 10,000 Kurds from Iran are registered with the UNHCR in the Kurdistan Region, according to the Joint Crisis Coordination Center.