Kurdistan, the shelter for refugees
Approximately 1 million people from the Syrian Kurdistan and other parts of Iraq have been displaced due to the war and the security situations and have resettled in the Kurdistan Region.
Following the assault by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) on the Neinava Province and some other cities and areas in northern Iraq earlier this month, a large number of Iraqis left their homes and fled towards Kurdistan Region escaping from violence.
They were trying to save their lives and families from a war and violence they have not created.
Ministry of Interior (MOI) of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced that currently there are approximately one million refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in all the Kurdish cities and towns, and now out of each 6 residents, one is a refugee.
“The population of the Kurdistan Region is 5.2 million, and the 1 million refugees constitute one sixth of the region’s population,” MOI announced.
Majority of the Iraqis and the Syrian Kurds who are displaced seek shelter in the Kurdistan Region, the safest area within reach. The majority of the refugees have settled in and around the three major cities of Erbil, Duhok and Suleimaniya.
Shukri Barzani, the Director of Immigration and Immigrants in the Kurdistan Region, told Anadolu News Agency that before the attack by the ISIS on Mosul, the total number of refugees in Kurdistan was around 755 thousand, consisting of 266 thousand from Syria, 30 thousand from Iran and 12 thousand from Turkey. This is in addition to the IDPs from other parts of Iraq such as Anbar, Falluja, which increased the number to 755,000.”
Barzani said after the influx of 300,000 IDPs from Mosul, the number of refugees in Kurdistan Region passed 1 million.
Because the unfolding of the developments is so rapid not all the Mosul IDPs could be provided with accommodation. The majority live in tents. They are not satisfied with this and ask for more aid. Foreign countries started to support the IDPs, and according to Barzani Qatar was the first foreign country to send aid to the Mosul IDPs in Kurdistan.
Some of the IDPs who are financially better off stay in hotels and serviced apartments and can afford a better accommodation than tents, at least on a temporary basis.
Hussein Suleiman, father of 4 children, who has fled Mosul to Erbil, said that they are staying with 10 more people in one hotel room.
“We are waiting for the war to end and go back to our homes,” Suleiman said.
The Kurdish government tries its best to improve the situation of the refugees.
Previously, the Kurdistan authorities were only concerned about the Syrian Kurdish refu- gees, but now the Mosul and other Iraqi IDPs are added. The KRG is currently planning to reorganize its refugee management plan and register them in order to be able to deliver basic services to everybody and equally.
Reports claim that the European Union is planning to open its office in Kurdistan Region in the near future, and the KRG Department of Foreign Relations is working hard to have this office opened as soon as possible so that the European countries can send their aids to the refugees in the Region.
This comes at a time when the Iraqi Government not only has not helped the refugees, but also kept silent about them.
Experts, hence, argue that the recent tensions and violence has a sectarian root and the Prime Minister Nouri- al- Maliki’s government acts accordingly.
Maliki is now facing a lot of internal and external pressure and is not able to counter the ISIS fighters. His army withdrew from most of the areas without any resistance.
Many places would have been left with a security gap if the Peshmarga Forces did not take control of them. They protect the vast areas militarily and provide humanitarian help as well.