Syria Kurdish refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan: Victims of political disputes



ARA News

Erbil, Iraqi Kurdsitan− As the situation considerably deteriorates in the Syria’s Kurdish areas due to the ongoing clashes between the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) −the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD)− and al-qaeda linked Islamic battalions, the numbers of the displaced Kurdish families increased in neighbouring countries, particularly in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and Turkey. 

The Iraqi Kurdistan had the lion’s share in hosting those refugees, basically because of the ethnic and national ties among people of both regions −Syria’s Kurdish region (Rojava) and Iraqi Kurdistan. 

The Regional Government of Kurdistan (KRG), north of Iraq, has provided more than 200,000 Syrian Kurds with shelter and humanitarian aid. 

However, the increasing number of Syrian refugees led the KRG to demand the international community to “bear its responsibility” towards the refugees. 

On the other hand, political disputes erupted between the ruling Democratic Union Party in Iraqi Kurdistan (KDP) and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD)−affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Apparently, these disputes left impacts on the general situation of the Syrian Kurds in the Kurdistan Region, besides the restrictions imposed by both the KDP and the PYD on the Syrian-Iraqi border crossing of Simalka near the Iraqi Kurdish area of Fishkhabour. 

As winter approaches, living conditions of the refugees worsened over the recent weeks in the Iraqi Kurdistan, especially in the refugee camps −near Duhok, Erbil and Suleimani− where some Syrian families suffer a shortage of specific supplies, accusing political parties of “punishing them” for political disagreements.  

Sources reported that a large number of Syrians in the Region didn’t receive an official staying permit −a document was usually being issued for Syrian Kurds in the Iraqi Kurdistan for freedom of movement inside the Region. Moreover, the majority of those who had a temporary staying permit were unable to renew their documents after expiration. 

Rezan Ayyo, a Syrian Kurdish refugee in Domiz Camp near Duhok, told ARA News that the refugees conditions in the camp is gradually worsening with the “remarkable shortage of supplies” their used to receive frm the KRG over more than 20 months. 

“The Kurdistan’s authorities do not allow us anymore to leave the province. We cannot visit our relatives in other provinces in the Iraqi Kurdistan,” Ayyo said. “We also suffer a shortage of drinking water in the camp, beside the need to stoves to avoid the cold winter under the tents here.”

Ayyo said that most of Syrian Kurds in the Kurdistan Region are forced into illegal works to cover the high costs of renting a house and afford daily needs.

“The KRG doesn’t grant us working permits, and many people are afraid of working illegally because of the possibility of being deported if caught,” Ayyo revealed to ARA News. “There is a sort of double-standard treatment with refugees here. The government should remember the help we provided to Iraqi Kurds when they flee Saddam Hussein’s tyranny and resorted to our areas, We hosted them in our houses, fed and protected them.”  

Mostafa Bashir, a Syrian Kurd from Hasakah city who is currently based in Erbil, told ARA News that he didn’t receive a staying permit since he crossed the borders and came to the Kurdistan Region about 6 months ago. “Without an official document from the government, you’re here in the middle of nowhere,” he argued.

“Some NGOs are trying to help refugees like me, but apparently they do not have sufficient resources. The Kurdistan government should further provide us with aid, otherwise the humanitarian crisis of Syrian Kurds will grow in the Region, which will be viewed as ‘shameful’,” Bashir argued. 

According to Bashir, some families receive an amount of 150-200 dollars a month in camps, others receive food brackets. “It’s never enough,” he angrily commented. 

Some KRG officials held meetings with representatives the UN Human Rights Agency in the Region last month, demanding them to support the government in dealing with the “growing demands” of Syrian refugees. Sources said that the KRG called on the UN to some “sustainable financial resource”, thus the government in cooperation with the NGOs can keep responding to the refugees demands and needs.  

Over two years, the KRG provided Syrian refugees (mostly Kurds) with different kinds of support, including services in the established camps, and founded primary schools in order to keep the remarkably huge number of refugees under control.

According to official records, the number of Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan exceeded 230,000 refugee, causing the Region a “financial crisis”, activists said. 



Source: ARA News

(Editing by: Adib Abdulmajid)


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