Kurdistan Region still hosts about 1.5 Million IDPs and refugees

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq ( – 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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