Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan lack freedom of movement: NGO Chairman

Syria refugees at documentation center in Domiz Camp, Duhok Province, Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan – Due to the ongoing crisis and the war conditions in Syria, tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds sought refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In an interview with ARA News, Chairman of the Cooperation Council for Kurdish Refugees (an NGO in Iraqi Kurdistan), Bilal Ibrahim, talked about the reality of the Syrian Kurdish refugees who live in the city of Koya, located in the Governorate of Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Ibrahim said that many Kurdish families emigrated from the countryside of Damascus and Aleppo city at the beginning of 2012 to Iraqi Kurdistan due to the hard war conditions in their areas.

“The bad living conditions and security problems were the main reasons behind the emigration of these families from Syria and their decision to seek refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan,” Ibrahim added.

Ibrahim pointed out that they were the first cooperation council which was founded in Iraqi Kurdistan to provide services to the Kurdish refugees.

“We get no support from governmental entities or any political parties. We personally contacted American organizations and asked them to provide us with humanitarian aid to support the Syrian refugees in Koya city (65 km east of Erbil),” Ibrahim told ARA News.

“Members of our council (Cooperation Council for Kurdish Refugees) also held meetings with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and asked them for support and help,” the Chairman stated.

According to Ibrahim, some of the members of the refugee families work in the countryside of Koya city in chicken farms, while others work for different companies in the central city.

Regarding the Issue of residence permit in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Ibrahim told ARA News: “The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was granting Syrian refugees temporary staying permits. However, this procedure is suspended since months, causing mounting constraints on the movement of the refugees within the Region.”

“The families are unable to move easily in the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan anymore due to the expiry of their residence permit. We have taken the responsibility of renewing their permits and we expect the KRG to respond within weeks,” Ibrahim said. “These refugees lack freedom of movement.”

Notably, the total number of Syrian Kurdish refugees in Koya city is 518 families and 260 persons. All of them live in the city and not in refugee camps.

According to KRG officials, the total number of Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan exceeded 230 thousand.


Reporting by: Azad Jamkari

Source: ARA News

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