The KRG can­not run na­tional cen­sus alone

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Salih Wal­ad­bagi

The Iraqi government has de­layed con­duct­ing the na­tion­wide cen­sus, and there have been no at­tempts of prepa­ra­tion on ground. Kur­dish of­fi­cials have an­nounced that the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government (KRG) is un­able to con­duct the cen­sus alone, and needs the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Iraq’s cen­tral government.

The Iraqi government has de­layed con­duct­ing the na­tion­wide cen­sus, and there have been no at­tempts of prepa­ra­tion on ground. Kur­dish of­fi­cials have an­nounced that the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government (KRG) is un­able to con­duct the cen­sus alone, and needs the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Iraq’s cen­tral government.

Hus­sein Kakil, Er­bil’s Di­rec­tor of Statis­tic Of­fice, has re­cently said that there is no ef­fort to en­cour­age the of­fi­cials to bring the cen­sus is­sue on the ta­ble of ne­go­ti­a­tions. He be­lieves due to se­cu­rity is­sues, and de­te­ri­o­rat­ing pub­lic opin­ion to­wards the government, it is un­likely that a cen­sus will be con­ducted in the near fu­ture.

Dis­putes be­tween the Iraqi po­lit­i­cal groups have re­sulted in adding the cen­sus is­sue to other pend­ing is­sues in the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal process. Since 2007 sev­eral dates were an­nounced to hold a cen­sus, but since then all of them have been ei­ther can­celed or post­poned.

Af­ter the 2003 Iraq war, it was de­cided that the na­tional cen­sus would be con­ducted in 2007 and a bud­get of $120 mil­lion was al­lo­cated for it. Due to po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity in the coun­try, the process was de­layed to 2009 and the bud­get was in­creased to $200 mil­lion. Be­cause the prepa­ra­tions for the process were not made in time, the cen­sus was post­poned once again to Oc­to­ber 2010. The main fac­tor be­hind the sec­ond de­lay was Arab groups who politi­cized the cen­sus in the dis­puted ar­eas.

“It is very sig­nif­i­cant to con­duct the cen­sus as soon as pos­si­ble, but the KRG can­not do it alone. It should be done in whole Iraq; mean­while, the United Na­tions has to su­per­vise the process,” Kakil ex­plained.

Dur­ing the past cen­tury, sev­eral na­tional cen­suses have been con­ducted in Iraq, the first be­ing in 1927 and the last one be­ing 1997. Oth­ers were con­ducted in 1937, 1947 and 1957. Ac­cord­ing to the 1987 cen­sus, the pop­u­la­tion of Iraq was 22 mil­lion. How­ever, the last cen­sus in 1997 only cov­ered 15 prov­inces and did not in­clude the three Kur­dis­tan Re­gion prov­inces. It is not rec­og­nized as an ac­cu­rate re­li­able cen­sus.

In most of coun­tries, a na­tional cen­sus is con­ducted ev­ery 10 years to es­ti­mate pop­u­la­tion growth, and some coun­tries hold a cen­sus ev­ery five years.

The di­rec­tor also said that the KRG was pre­pared to con­duct the cen­sus in 2009, for that pur­pose the KRG trained at least 21, 000 em­ploy­ees so that they don’t fall short of staff.

Sir­wan Mo­hammed, Head of Kur­dis­tan Re­gion’s Statis­tic Board, said that one of the ma­jor rea­sons be­hind post­pon­ing the cen­sus is in­sta­ble po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, es­pe­cially the re­cent po­lit­i­cal devel­op­ment in the Sunni prov­inces.

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