The Pain of cit­i­zen­ship re­newal

Cit­i­zen­ship re­newal or­dered by Iraqi Government for all Iraqi ci­ti­zens

The Kurdish Globe - - NATIONAL - By Zakariya Muhammed

New reg­u­la­tions by Iraqi government ne­ces­si­tates cit­i­zen­ship re­newal, but many com­plain of long queues and mis­man­age­ment.

The Iraqi government has is­sued a new pol­icy, which makes sig­nif­i­cant changes to the na­tional cit­i­zen­ship doc­u­ments. In the new edi­tion, the doc­u­ments have stick­ers on them with a se­rial num­ber for each cit­i­zen. Ac­cord­ing to the in­struc- tions is­sued by the fed­eral government, ev­ery­one in Iraq, in­clud­ing Kur­dis­tan re­gion must up­date their cit­i­zen­ship doc­u­ments by June 2013.

On Fe­bru­ary 17th, hun­dreds of ci­ti­zens gath­ered in Er­bil’s cit­i­zen­ship de­part­ment to up­date their doc­u­ments. The queue was long, and the peo­ple were grow­ing tire­some by the hour. The num­ber of staff work­ing in the de­part­ment strug­gled with cop­ing with the huge turnout, and con­se­quently this re­sulted in a long ‘wait­ing pe­riod’ for those up­dat­ing their doc­u­ments. One con­struc­tion worker, So­ran Haider, 33-years-old said “I have been wait­ing here since early morn­ing to get my files stamped. I don’t know how much longer I can wait be­cause my boss has given me per­mis­sion to leave for two hours, but I have been here for al­most five hours”.

Haider, among many oth­ers crit­i­cized Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government (KRG) for not be­ing able to han­dle the new cit­i­zen­ship guide­line in an ap­pro­pri­ate and or­ga­nized way. In ad­di­tion to the long wait, peo­ple are re­quired to pay for un­nec­es­sary ad­di­tions to the doc­u­ments such as stamps, cover for new cit­i­zen­ship doc­u­ments, and mak­ing dozens of copies of the of­fi­cial doc­u­ment. While this might seem con­sid­er­ably cheap since stamps cost around IQD 250 (ap­prox­i­mately $0.21 US dol­lars), many still find it as an un­war­ranted ad­di­tional cost.

An el­derly man, Ah­mad Ma­jid was among those who had queued up for hours. He said, “The work­ing style in this di­rec­torate re­minds me of 30 years ago when we did not have com­put­ers, and were forced to make notes man­u­ally”. Ma­jid was frus­trated by the long process, and vented “I don’t un­der­stand why I have to make dozens of copies of doc­u­ments to prove that I am an Iraqi cit­i­zen. Noth­ing seems to have changed since 30 years ago, and I’m very dis­ap­pointed by this”.

The in­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (IT) de­part­ment work­ing un­der the Coun- cil of Min­is­ters in Kur­dis­tan Re­gion has been un­able to com­put­er­ize the gov­ern­men­tal of­fices’ sys­tem. One of the work­ers com­mented con­fi­den­tially to Kur­dish Globe, “An elec­tronic government will solve our prob­lems, and this is the most cru­cial step in en­sur­ing that the data is kept ap­pro­pri­ately, and safely”. He con­tin­ued to say that with­out a com­put­er­ized sys­tem this re­gion will not progress.

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