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Without Outside Help, Kurdistan Region Overwhelmed by Syrian Refugees

By Armando Cordoba 20/8/2013
Around 160,000 refugees have crossed into the Kurdistan Region, and 50 to 60 more cross daily, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Around 160,000 refugees have crossed into the Kurdistan Region, and 50 to 60 more cross daily, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Syrian refugees continue to arrive in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region by the thousands, but the autonomous enclave has received little aid or attention by the international community to help cope with the massive influx, local authorities complain.

Around 160,000 refugees have crossed into the Kurdistan Region, and 50 to 60 more cross daily, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Just recently, after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) opened a pontoon bridge at Peshkhabour some 750 Syrians came over the Tigris river crossing before noon Thursday, UNHCR officers reported, with a much larger group of 5,000 to 7,000 following in the afternoon.

Falah Mustafa Bakir, KRG's Minister of Foreign Relations, said the enclave has received very little support compared to countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and others that have accepted the refugees.

“We in Kurdistan have received too little attention from the international community. We have been providing support as the KRG, but also through the people of Kurdistan,” Minister Bakir complained, noting that local charities also had helped.

To date there has been a total of $1.12 in total funding for the Syrian refugee crisis, out of which  Iraq has received only $67 million, while Jordan and Lebanon have gotten more than $420 million each, Turkey has been given nearly $94 million and Egypt has received $14.6 million.

Minister Bakir said the KRG has provided millions out of its own pocket, noting that KRG Prime Minister Nechrivan Barzani had donated $20 million to help with the crisis.

“Really this is beyond our capacity as a government, because we have got needs and expectations from our own people here,” Minister Bakir said, complaining that the central government in Baghdad has done nothing to help the KRG.

 “We have received nothing from the federal government in Baghdad,” he said.

He added that the KRG was overwhelmed not only by the refugees from Syria, but from Christians, Sunnis and Shiites who had fled the violence in the rest of Iraq for the safety of the Kurdistan Region.

The shortfalls in funding have resulted in massive overcrowding in the Domiz Camp in Duhok, which was supposed to house 15,000 refugees, but has been crammed with 35,000 people in deplorable conditions.

Adil Osman, a Syrian-Kurdish refugee living in an apartment in Erbil crowded with his wife and three children, as well as his brother, said that the only help he has seen during his 10 months as a refugee was some unusable flour and rice. “I received a bag of rice that had worms in it and flour that was black and rotting,” he said.

Recently, the German government pledged to donate an additional 15 million euros for the Syrian Refugees, via UN agencies, with a significant amount of that earmarked for refugees in the Kurdistan Region, according to the KRG.

But Minister Bakir said that would only touch the surface of what is needed.

The KRG and UNHCR are working together on new camps to house around 20,000 refugees, but with the newly-opened bridge and refugees crossing daily the needy are arriving faster than authorities can cope.


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Mahabad | 21/8/2013
They left their land because of famine and the fear of the Islamic terrorists attacks in Syria. it's time for Westerners to support the Kurds and break their silent over the massacre of the Kurds in this not enough proof for them to believe the Kurds are under attack by Al-Qaeda?'s also time for the members of the Islamic parties in Kurdistan to come out in their thousands to condemn the killing of their own nation in Syria in the same way they denounced the killing of Egyptians a few days ego...if not, they are really enemy of their own nation and must be punished by the KRG.
PDK Kerkuk | 21/8/2013
And again the international community ignores the Kurdish people.
guest | 21/8/2013
it won't help to wait for the Westerners or the International community. As you know they only seek their very own advantages. never ever will they let justice prevail if they wouldn't benefit from it. ----------------- in the moment they rather support terrorists
L. E | 22/8/2013
Oh for goodness sake, all the comments above talk about Westerners as not caring or not doing anything. Have you ever even met these "Westerners" that you talk about and generalize about so much? I am a Westerner. Everyday all I see on my Facebook from my also "Western" friends are articles about the war in Syria, in the Kurdish region as well with al-Qaeda attacking them, about refugees and how people are dying. Everyone says "how much longer can our leaders let this go on for?". Do not think that you know anything about "Westerners" and what we think - you have no idea. Do you even have any "Western" friends? Everyone is the West is horrified about what is going on in Syria and are constantly writing and pleading with our leaders to do something. Have you been to the West? Do you know anything about Westerners? No. You just believe what people in mosques tell you who have also never been to the West and don't know anything about us. I am lucky enough to have travelled around Qamishli, Derik and Kurdistan and lived with Kurdish families. Maybe you should come to the West and live with a family here and lets see if you continue being racist.
Kurd123 | 23/8/2013
Dear Westerner: L.E evidence please??
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