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Kurdistan Region still hosts about 1.5 Million IDPs and refugees

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – In 2018, only 32,000 of approximately 1.5 million remaining internally displaced persons, IDPs, and Syrian refugees in Kurdistan Region have either returned to their homes or migrated abroad.

In an interview with the Kurdistan Regional Government website, Director-General of the KRG Ministry of Interior’s Joint Crisis Coordination Centre, JCC, Hoshang Muhammad stated that in 2018 only 27,671 IDPs and 4,380 Syrian refugees left the Kurdistan Region. This low number is mainly due to continued security challenges, terrorist activities, and inadequate basic services in their liberated places of origin, and, in Syria, it is due to ongoing war and economic collapse.

According to JCC, “The humanitarian policy of the KRG is to provide security, basic services including education, and job opportunity to all IDPs and refugees without discrimination regarding ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation.”

During 2018, IDPs and refugees continued to flee their homes; 28,487 IDPs, mostly from Nineveh province, and 3,795 refugees from Syria sought refuge in the Kurdistan Region.

Regarding the number of IDPs and refugees, Hoshang Muhammad said, “Despite declaring victory over ISIS, there are still 1,411,532 displaced people and refugees hosted in the Kurdistan Region, of which 1,127,400 are IDPs and 249,639 are Syrian refugees.”

According to JCC:
• 79 percent of IDPs reside in cities and towns and 21 percent in 29 camps.
• 69 percent of Syrian refugees reside in cities and towns and 37 percent in nine camps.
• 50 percent of IDPs plus refugees are in Erbil province, with 31 percent in Duhok and 19 percent in Suleimaniya provinces.

Among IDPs:
• 40 percent are Sunni Arabs
• 30 percent are Yezidi Kurds
• 13 percent are Muslim Kurds
• Seven percent are Christians
• 10 percent are Shia, Shabak Kurds, Turkmens, and Armenians

Mr. Muhammad said, “Few IDPs and refugees earn incomes. While some IDPs are current or retired civil servants receiving monthly compensation from the Iraqi government, 65 percent of IDPs and refugees depend on assistance from KRG, UN agencies, and NGOs.”

Providing services, such as security, shelter, water, electricity, health, education, and camp management, requires $5.4 million per day ($162 million per month or about $1.9 billion annually). The KRG has endeavored to make services available equally for IDPs and refugees, despite severe financial constraints.

International assistance

Regarding international assistance, Mr. Muhammad stated that during the past four years, UN agencies along with local and international NGOs have been providing highly valued support to the KRG in caring for an extraordinary number of IDPs and refugees. He said, to meet the needs of IDPs and refugees, NGOs along with the international community provide only about 25 percent of requirements while the KRG provides 75 percent.

JCC Director General further said that since victory over ISIS was declared, the number of international organizations, especially those servicing camps, have decreased, which has caused drop in services.

Currently, 160 humanitarian organizations serve in the Kurdistan Region to help IDPs and refugees – 43 are local and 103 international NGOs, 14 are UN agencies.

According to JCC data, in addition to 249,639 Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region, other refugees include 20,575 from Turkey, 13,162 from Iran, and 756 Palestinians.

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DFR Minister receives the Spanish Ambassador to Iraq to discuss recent political developments and issues of common interest

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (dfr.gov.krd) – Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa met with the Ambassador of Spain to Iraq, Juan José Escobar Stemmann and his accompanying delegation on 9 February 2019.

Minister Mustafa provided an overview of the recent political developments in the Kurdistan Region and beyond, the formation of the new KRG cabinet and pathways to foster bilateral relations between the Kurdistan Region and Spain. The Minister also expressed the commitment of the KRG to develop ties and improving economic cooperation with Spain.

Spanish Ambassador, Stemmann expressed his optimism on visiting the Kurdistan Region and meets with the KRG officials, as well as to further strengthening relations in various areas including economic and trade.

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Prime Minister Barzani receives Kuwaiti Consul General

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received Consul General of Kuwait to the Kurdistan Region, Omar Al-Kandari and his accompanying delegation.

Consul General Al-Kandari highlighted Kurdistan Regional Government’s effective management of the past four year’s severe economic crisis and accommodating and assisting an extraordinary number of displaced persons from Iraq and refugees from Syria. He also noted his country’s assistance to displaced persons.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the people and Government of Kuwait for their humanitarian assistance with special gratitude to the Emir of Kuwait and the Consul General.

Relations with Baghdad, including the recent visit of Prime Minister Barzani to Baghdad and his meeting with Iraq’s Prime Minister, relations with neighboring countries, strengthening relations between the Kurdistan Region and Kuwait as well as political and security situation of the wider region, were also discussed.

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Spanish Ambassador to Iraq, Juan José Escobar Stemmann, visited Kurdistan region

Erbil, Kurdistan region of Iraq – Spanish Ambassador to Iraq, Juan José Escobar Stemmann, visited the Kurdistan Region on Saturday and met with KRG leaders to discuss relations between Kurdistan Region and Spain.

The Ambassador Escobar Stemmann was accompanied by the Honorary Consul in Erbil, Dawood Sardar Jaff during his visit.  The Ambassador met with the Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC), Masrour Barzani. Both sides discussed developing bilateral relations and cooperation in all areas, especially in trade and investment.

Later, the Ambassador of Spain met with the Head of DFR, Falah Mustafa, and discussed the possibilities to develop trade between Spain and the Kurdistan. The recently  improving relations between the KRG and the federal government of Iraq were also discussed at the meeting.

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Prime Minister Barzani meets Iraqi Prime Minister

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad.

They discussed strengthening relations between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Federal Government of Iraq through coordination and cooperation and exerting further effort to settle the remaining issues within the framework of the Constitution of Iraq.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi for his continual efforts to improve the federal government’s relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government and reiterated that the KRG will continue dialogue toward resolving all outstanding issues.

Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq for Economic Affairs and Minister of Finance, Fuad Hussein, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy and Minister of Oil Thamir Ghadhban, Iraq’s National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayyadh, and KRG Minister of Interior Karim Sinjari also attended the meeting.

The security situation and the political process in Iraq and the latest developments in the wider region were also discussed.

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Prime Minister Barzani meets visiting Italian Prime Minister Conte

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his accompanying delegation in Erbil.

The meeting was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani.

Prime Minister Conte praised the role of the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces in the fight against terrorism, the people and the Kurdistan Regional Government for accommodating and offering assistance to a large number of IDPs and refugees.

He valued the old tradition of tolerance and coexistence among the various religious communities in the Kurdistan Region, and reiterated his country’s humanitarian and military support to the Kurdistan Region.

The Italian Prime Minister stressed strengthening bilateral relations in various fields. He also welcomed the Kurdistan parliamentary elections, participation of the Kurdistan Region in the Iraqi elections, the continued talks between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad to settle differences and develop security cooperation between them.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked Prime Minister Conte for his visit to the Kurdistan Region. He also thanked his government for its continued support to the Kurdistan Region, particularly in the humanitarian, military and cultural fields.

Prime Minister Barzani highlighted the progress made in settling some of the issues between Kurdistan and Baghdad through constructive dialogue, and reaffirmed KRG’s support to the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi. He stressed that efforts will be further exerted to settle the remaining outstanding issues, within the framework of the Iraqi constitution.

Prime Minister Barzani said that the threat of terrorism still exists and highlighted the cooperation and coordination between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad to eradicate terrorism. He stressed that the support of the international community is essential in this context.

Prime Minister Barzani considered that international community’s role is essential in assisting the Kurdistan religious communities, who fled ISIS repression, to return to their places of origin and construct their devastated communities.

Prime Minister Barzani also highlighted KRG’s administrative reform process, the economic recovery and the opportunities for Italian investors to invest in various sectors in the Kurdistan Region.

The situation of the region in general and a number of topics related to the political and security situation in the wider region were also discussed in the meeting.

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Prime Minister Barzani receives U.S. Assistant Secretary of Treasury

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received U.S. Assistant Secretary of Treasury Marshall Billingslea and his accompanying delegation.

Assistant Secretary Billingslea welcomed improvements in the Kurdistan Region, especially in its economic infrastructure, government reforms, and the development of the private sector. He also expressed his country’s readiness to assist the Kurdistan Region and Iraq to strengthen their economies and reform government institutions.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the U.S. Government for its continual support to the Kurdistan Region. He said that progress on expanding the economy of the Kurdistan Region will add to the Iraqi economy. He highlighted that private sector expansion that attracts foreign investment enables friends to participate as partners  in the Region’s development.

Also discussed was the situation in the Region and coordination of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraq federal government with the international coalition, especially the United States, to counter terrorism by curtailing the financial resources of terrorists.

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Prime Minister Barzani receives Consul General of the Hellenic Republic

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received the Hellenic Republic’s Consul-General to the Kurdistan Region Efthymios Costopoulos and his accompanying delegation.

As the first Consul-General of the Hellenic Republic to the Kurdistan Region, Mr. Efthymios Costopoulos stressed developing bilateral cooperation between the Kurdistan Region and the Hellenic Republic (Greece).

He praised the tradition of tolerance and coexistence in the Kurdistan Region and commended the Kurdistan Regional Government for having hosted, accommodated and offered assistance to an extraordinary number of internally displaced persons.

Prime Minister Barzani assured Consul-General Costopoulos of KRG institutions’ full support to the Greek Consulate General.

He presented a brief overview of the post-ISIS situation, reconstruction of devastated areas and relations between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad, expressing his government’s full support to the new Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Latest political developments in the wider region were also discussed in the meeting.

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Prime Minister Barzani receives World Bank delegation

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received a delegation from the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), headed by Merza Hasan, Executive Director and Dean of the Board of Executive Directors.

The meeting was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani.

The delegation hailed the Kurdistan Regional Government’s successful management of the severe economic crisis which the Region witnessed in the past years, highlighting the current clear indications of recovery.

They expressed their willingness to help the Kurdistan Region in the field of administrative reforms, development of economy as well as funding infrastructure projects.

The IFC coordinator expressed support to the Kurdistan Regional Government and its strategic projects, some of which are funded by the IFC and implemented by the private sector. He also expressed their willingness to fund other projects of the private sector in the future.

Prime Minister Barzani stressed that the economic policy of the Kurdistan Regional Government underlines the importance of the private sector as an important pillar of a strong economy.

He stressed that the Kurdistan Regional Government will continue to provide assistance to the private sector and seeks to continue reforms in order to improve the performance of government and living conditions of the citizens as well as attracting foreign investors to the Kurdistan Region.