The Pain of citizenship renewal
Citizenship renewal ordered by Iraqi Government for all Iraqi citizens
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.