Erbil – The Iraqi government in cooperation with the Kurdish-led Rojava Self-Administration coordinated the return of 1,500 Iraqi refugees from the al-Hawl Camp in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah Governorate to the Iraqi province of Salahadin. The refugees’ return was facilitated by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil.
Since the start of the Mosul campaign on 17 October, thousands of Iraqis have fled to Rojava and paid smugglers to cross the border.
At the request the Iraqi government, 1,500 Iraqi refugees returned through the Semalka border crossing between Rojava and Iraqi Kurdistan, according to local sources.
The refugees were transferred to the Salahadin province by busses provided by the department of transportation of the Cezire administration in Hasakah.
The de facto autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria is struggling to cope with a massive influx of refugees from Mosul city and internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor Governorates.
The World Food Programme (WFP) and the UNCHR have delivered humanitarian aid and winter supplies to help the refugees, in coordination with the Rojava’s self-administration. In total, over 6,000 Iraqi refugees have taken shelter in the al-Hawl refugee camp.
In November, the Rojava Self-Administration asked the UN to provide short-term assistance to help those fleeing from the Islamic State (ISIS).
“The number of refugees from Mosul has been increasing in Rojava [Syria’s Kurdish region],” Redur Khelil, the People’s Protection Units’ (YPG) spokesman, said in an earlier statement. “We need urgent help from the UN and other relevant organizations.”
The Kurdish official also reported an increase in the number of IDPs fleeing from ISIS-held areas in Syria into Rojava. “The Self-Administration can’t deal with this crisis due to the ongoing embargo,” the YPG spokesman said. “[We] need an international campaign.”
Syrian Kurds have been providing a safe haven for thousands of refugees, mostly Arabs who have fled violence and starvation in the would-be Caliphate. The UN’s refugee agency and a few NGOs have been supporting the refugees in Northern Syrian – Rojava but their resources are limited and they are having difficulties to bring in supplies with all the official border crossings with Turkey that were closed.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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