Er­bil calls on oil com­pa­nies to help in Syr­ian refugee cri­sis

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

On Thurs­day, Iraq’s Kur­dis­tan Re­gion called on oil com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in the au­ton­o­mous en­clave for fi­nan­cial help to cope with some 200 000 mostly Syr­ian-Kur­dish refugees from the Syr­ian civil war next door.

At a meet­ing in Er­bil with sev­eral oil com­pa­nies who pledged to pro­vide emer­gency relief for the refugees, a state­ment by the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) said it hoped that $50 mil­lion could be raised through the ef­fort.

“It is hoped that an ad­di­tional $50 mil­lion of funds can be raised by the com­pa­nies through their own in­dus­try-wide ef­fort,” the state­ment said.

The meet­ing was held be­tween the Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and oil com­pa­nies in the re­gion fol­low­ing a re­quest by the KRG’s Coun­cil of Min­is­ters.

The oil com­pa­nies are “long-term part­ners of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion that can play a role in con­tribut­ing to the relief ef­forts,” the state­ment added.

“Their as­sis­tance will make a big dif­fer­ence to the lives and well-be­ing of the refugees and also help the com­mu­ni­ties in which they are lo­cated,” Ashti Hawrami, the min­is­ter of nat­u­ral re­sources, said.

The KRG is strug­gling with a huge in­flux of refugees, which the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) es­ti­mates at more than 200 000.

It is es­ti­mated that the KRG has given $10 mil­lion in fuel sup­plies and around $25 mil­lion of ca­pac­ity-build­ing funds for emer­gency as­sis­tance.

Iraqi Kur­dis­tan was over­whelmed by a flood of refugees when it re­opened a bor­der cross­ing last month and was hit by some 50 000 new ar­rivals.

To deal with the flow and pro­vide hous­ing and sup­plies, the KRG and UNHCR opened new camps to ac­com­mo­date them, but pro­vid­ing aid and sup­plies has be­come a prob­lem.

Re­cently, more than 100 tons of emer­gency sup­plies were pro­vided by the United Na­tions with the help of fund­ing from the Kuwaiti gov­ern­ment, but sup­plies have been run­ning short.

Wil­liam Tall, the head of the UNHCR in Kur­dis­tan, told the oil com­pa­nies at the meet­ing that now was a very im­por­tant time to chip in, as win­ter is ap­proach­ing and more refugees are com­ing in daily.

“The sit­u­a­tion is not sus­tain­able with­out fur­ther help,” Tall said dur­ing the meet­ing.

He also cited sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives taken by oil com­pa­nies to aid in the Azer­bai­jan refugee cri­sis, which amounts to ap­prox­i­mately 800 000 dis­placed per­sons as a re­sult of the Nagorno-Karabakh con­flict.

There are a to­tal of two mil­lion dis­placed refugees from the Syr­ian civil war in Tur­key, Le­banon, Jor­dan, Egypt and the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, ac­cord­ing to the UNHCR.

“The KRG, in­ter­na­tional aid agen­cies, NGOs and lo­cal cit­i­zens have all risen to the chal­lenge posed by such a large in­flux of dis­placed peo­ple, but more is needed in the way of prac- tical aid to help the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion cope with the scale of the cri­sis,” the state­ment said.

“Al­though the KRG (Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment) has al­ready al­lo­cated $10 mil­lion in fuel sup­plies and some $25 mil­lion of ca­pac­ity-build­ing funds for emer­gency as­sis­tance, given the huge scale of the cri­sis and the num­ber of refugees ar­riv­ing daily, we all need to work to­gether to pro­vide more ur­gently needed help.”

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