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$46bn-Worth of Projects Boosts Kurdistan Region

By , April 11, 2014 10:15 pm

$  46bn-Worth of Projects Boosts Kurdistan Region

MEED’s Kurdistan Projects conference 2014 shows why the region, long seen as a platform for doing business elsewhere in Iraq, has now become a hotspot for investments.

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq has long been considered as a business friendly environment for foreign companies and a gateway for doing business elsewhere in the country. But recent developments have seen an upsurge in business activity making it one of the fastest growing economies on earth.

The region’s projects market reflects the growing demand for all types of goods and services. There are approximately $ 46bn-worth of projects currently planned or under way in the energy, construction, tourism and basic infrastructure sectors that make the Kurdistan Region one of the most dynamic projects markets in the world.

MEED’s Kurdistan Projects conference scheduled to take place on 8-10 June at The Rotana, Erbil, will provide a comprehensive overview of the projects market by sector and outline where the main opportunities lie for investors, financiers, contractors, and suppliers.

We are delighted to work with the Kurdistan Regional Government and major private sector investors on this ground breaking conference set to reveal opportunities across key sectors including: oil & gas, power, real estate, industry, hospitality & tourism, water & agriculture and banking & finance,” said Edmund O’ Sullivan, Chairman, MEED Events. “Being the only event catering to all major areas of the region’s economy and attracting all the region’s leading stakeholders, this is a must attend event for any organisation looking to expand existing business in the Kurdistan Region or enter this booming market to explore new business opportunities”.

Other healthy signs indicating Kurdistan’s steady march to progress has been the growing inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Kurdistan is open for business and the National Investment Law of 2006 has attracted more than $ 20bn to the region already with the government actively encouraging further investment most notably in the Water, Agriculture, Industry, Tourism and Power sectors. As of June 2013 there are now in excess of 2,300 foreign companies registered in addition to the 15,000 local companies.

It has been especially successful in opening up the power sector, with 75 per cent of electricity in Kurdistan currently coming from independent power projects. With ample opportunities in oil and gas, and demand continuing to grow for power and water, there will be increased opportunities for FDI in these sectors and across the board,” said Leo Koot, President, TAQA Iraq.

The cornerstone of the region’s economy is the untapped natural resources proving highly attractive for oil companies. The region is moving rapidly from exploration to production, and with political stability and security unrivalled elsewhere in Iraq, there are numerous openings throughout the hydrocarbons value chain.

Erbil has also been called “the next Dubai”, thanks to the huge construction boom currently under way. Its build-it-and-they-will-come attitude is now maturing as the Kurdistan region develops, with the Prime Minister releasing details on a plan to improve the quality of future property developments including the implementation of building regulations and an active building control department.

Tourism is likely to receive a major boost as Tourism Erbil has been named the Arab Tourism Capital 2014 by the Arab Council of Tourism. “Hotels are springing up in the city and further afield, and Kurdistan is taking advantage of its safe reputation to develop attractions and leisure projects that will attract more visitors,” continued O’ Sullivan.

MEED’s Kurdistan Projects conference 2014 is supported by the Kurdistan Regional Government and Department of Foreign Relations, UKTI, Taqa as Strategic Event Partner, as well as U.S.-Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC) and Kurdish Europe Dutch Business Community (KDBC). Drake and Scull has signed up as the event’s Conference Sponsor and Parsons is on board as the Networking Programme Sponsor. With massive interest in Kurdistan’s further development growing, organisers are encouraging early registration at www.kurdistanprojects.com.

About MEED’s Kurdistan Projects conference 2014

Kurdistan Projects 2014 is a ground breaking event detailing exclusive project opportunities across the Kurdistan Region, taking place in the heart of Erbil. This year’s edition includes n

Rebecca Cousins

Marketing Executive, Kurdistan Projects 2014

T +971 (0) 48180281

E Rebecca.cousins@meed.com

For media-related inquiries and assistance, please contact:

Anthon Garcia

PR Consultant, Kurdistan Projects 2014

M +971 50 139 8661

E anthon@meacommunications.com

Iraq Business News

Kurdistan Region: a Last Resort for Christians?

By , March 10, 2014 9:26 am

BARCELONA — Rezan Kader recalls a parish priest she used to call uncle when she was a young girl in the Kurdish city of Sulaimani.

“We had a mosque near our house and close to it we had a church with a parish priest who I used to call uncle,” remembered Kader, who is now the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Representative for Italy and the Vatican.

“When I became a political refugee in France I met him again,” she said in an interview with Rudaw. “I told him, ‘Here everybody is asking me if I am Muslim.’ And he answered me that the beauty of Kurdistan was in this: ‘Nobody asked anyone anything.’”

Many years later that sense of tolerance remains rooted in the autonomous Kurdistan Region, which has become the last refuge for some 10,000 Iraqi Christian families escaping violence in other parts of Iraq.

For the Vatican, which is worried that one of the world’s longest continuous Christian communities in the world is vanishing due to violence and emigration across Iraq, the Kurdish safe haven has provided a temporary respite.

The Vatican is in a delicate position when it comes to Iraq’s Christians: On the one hand, it fears the death of the community if everyone migrates out of fear of persecution and violence; on the other hand, it knows many Christians have no choice but to leave their ancestral homes following threats or anti-Christian attacks.

“Let us fast and pray so that Christians do not emigrate from Iraq,” the Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Raphael I Sako, said in his message for Lent, the Christian period of fasting that began on Wednesday.

“Our Christian identity is deeply rooted in Iraq’s history and geography, and it has been so for two thousand years,” he observed.

“Our roots and limpid sources are in our country; if we leave, we shall be deprived of our origins. To persevere and hope is an expression of complete faithfulness to our faith and our homeland. You must not listen to those who would bewitch you, nor those who would scare you. They do not want what is good for you,” his Beatitude warned.

Iraq’s Christian community, estimated at 800,000 -1.2 million before the 2003 US-led invasion that unleashed a wave of sectarian violence, has dwindled to less than half that, as al-Qaeda Sunni fighters have targeted the community.

Last Christmas, 38 people were killed in three bombings in Baghdad’s Christian areas, including a car bomb that exploded as worshippers were leaving mass.

In October 2010, al-Qaeda fighters and suicide bombers stormed into a Baghdad church during Sunday mass, massacring 44 worshippers, including two priests and several children.

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Apostolic Nuncio (Pope’s envoy) to Iraq, told Rudaw that the Vatican is grateful to Kurdish authorities for lending a hand to the country’s Christians whenever they could.

“We are grateful to the authorities of Kurdistan when they try to prevent incidents of religious intolerance or condemn those who do not respect it, as has been demonstrated in several cases,” he said.

But he underscored that “religious tolerance is only a first step towards the desired religious freedom, which is much more ambitious and must be constitutionally guaranteed and implemented throughout Iraq.

“Unfortunately, there is always and everywhere the risk of intolerance because the laws are not enough. We need to promote a proper mindset from the pulpits of churches and mosques,” he added.

Kader, the KRG representative, said that, “Christians and Muslims have always lived together. Christians are in their house, they are not strange to us. They were always partisans, like us.”

In a speech at the European Parliament in January, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Massoud Barzani said that, besides tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds and Muslims from other parts of Iraq, “Nearly 10,000 Christian families have been living in the Kurdistan Region.

“In addition to these families, 26,000 more Christian families from various parts of Iraq came to Kurdistan because of terrorism and because of their exposure to murder and intimidation,” he said.

According to Jordi Tejel, professor of international history at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and author of several books and articles about the Kurds, Kurdish and Christian coexistence dates back many centuries.

“The coexistence between the two groups is very ancient. Both communities have had the awareness that there are minorities and they need to help each other.”

But he noted the awakening of radical Islam in Kurdistan over the past several years, seen in attacks on liquor stores run by Christians in different Kurdish cities.

French expert in armed-conflict studies and international relations, Gerard Chaliand, noted that, in a very intolerant part of the world, the Kurdistan Region stands out for its tolerance.

“Iraqi Kurdistan looks a lot more tolerant than neighboring countries in general, and has representatives of these groups (Christians and minorities) in their parliament,” he told Rudaw.

Meanwhile, Kader said that Barzani had been received five times by previous popes. “After we have a new government elected in Kurdistan we are expecting another visit from the president. There is never an occasion when a Kurdish official visits Italy that does not go to the Vatican.”

Three years ago, Barzani received The Atlantic Award in Rome for his role in promoting peace, stability and religious tolerance in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.

Despite all efforts, the Christian exodus from Iraq continues unabated.

According to the Chaldean Church, everyday six Assyrian families leave Iraq. They do not only flee the violence against Christians, the attacks on churches — 73 since 2004 — or the sectarian strife between Shiites and Sunnis. Many who were displaced to safer regions, like Iraqi Kurdistan, are escaping another enemy: Unemployment.

Last year Iraq — including the Kurdistan Region — declared Christmas a national holiday, and big Christmas trees were put up in some cities.

But it will take more than Christmas trees to keep Iraq’s Christians from leaving.

“Al-Qaeda is the common enemy of all the community; it’s the tumor of society now,” Kader said.

Assyrian International News Agency

China’s nuclear missile drill seen as warning to US not to meddle in region

By , January 24, 2014 3:54 pm

China’s nuclear missile drill seen as warning to US not to meddle in region
By: SCMP on: 24.01.2014 [20:32 ] (104 reads)

China’s nuclear missile drill seen as warning to US not to meddle in region

The People’s Liberation Army has for the first time released photos of its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in action – a move seen as a response to US military moves in the region.

The 17 photos published on the PLA Daily’s website on Tuesday provided the first glimpse of a live drill involving the Dongfeng-31 since its delivery to the Second Artillery Corps in 2006.

Photos published by the PLA Daily show for the first time members of the Second Artillery Forces launching a Dongfeng-31 missile. Photo: SCMPThe missile has an estimated range of nearly 10,000 kilometres – enough to deliver a nuclear warhead to the capitals of Europe or the west coast of the United States. Military experts said the release was a warning to the US not to interfere in the country’s territorial disputes with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, or Senkakus, in the East China Sea.

Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong cited the Pentagon’s decisions to send a dozen advanced F-22 fighter jets to Okinawa and replace the USS George Washington with the younger USS Ronald Reagan at Yokosuka Naval Base near Tokyo.

“The disclosure of the Dongfeng-31 at this time obviously aims to respond to the United States’ two big military moves in Japan, which make Beijing believe it is going to meddle in the territorial disputes between China and Japan,” Wong said.

Several of the photos published by the PLA Daily were also posted on the newspaper’s official Sina Weibo account. It was unclear when the drill took place; the captions said sometime this winter.

The pictures showed a missile fired from a large launcher mounted on a 16-wheeled truck. Operators were shown inside a military camp dressed in protective suits, suggesting that the missile force was simulating the launch of an armed warhead.

The caption cast the exercise as defensive preparation, saying the soldiers were simulating how to disrupt an enemy’s missile attack. The pictures show the launcher was erected on the truck and ready for firing.

Hong Kong-based defence analyst Ma Ding-sheng said the pictures indicated that the PLA was more confident about showing off its military hardware after decades of secret development.

“The PLA realises that it needs to increase its transparency, which would also provide them more opportunities to show off their military muscle, as well as quiet questions from the US and other Western countries,” Ma said, adding the missiles had so far appeared to help deter threats.

“I doubt whether the missile is capable of hitting the US, although they claim it has a range up to 10,000 kilometers,” Ma said. “All its live-launch drills have happened inside Chinese territory, within 5,000 kilometers. And we never see the PLA shooting missiles to the Western Pacific.”

Non-operational versions of the Dongfeng-31 and the more advanced Dongfeng-31A were displayed publicly on October 1, 1999, the 50th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The Donfeng-31 is the country’s second generation of ICBM, replacing the earlier Dongfeng-4. It was formally delivered to the strategic missile defence force in 2006.

The Pentagon said at the time that the weapon was built using US missile and warhead secrets obtained through espionage and illegal transfers of technology.

ht tp://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1411310/chinas-nuclear-missile-drill-seen-warning-us-not-meddle-region?

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Lebanon Invests $3bn in Kurdish Region

By , November 20, 2013 4:13 am

Lebanon Invests $  3bn in Kurdish Region

By John Lee.

Lebanese investments in Iraqi Kurdistan account for 10 percent of the total investments in the region, and will exceed $ 3 billion, reports Aswat Al Iraq.

The Chairman of the Lebanese-Kurdish Friendship Association, Ali Adeeb, said that the Lebanese investors were the first to come to the Kurdish region, investing in construction, banking, tourism, restaurants and aviation.

97 Lebanese companies are registered in Kurdistan.

(Source: Aswat Al Iraq)

(Flag image via Shutterstock)

Iraq Business News

Archbishop Rejects Call for Kurdish Region in Syria

By , October 15, 2013 1:18 pm

“The only ones who want to create a Kurdish autonomous region in northern Syria are the militants of the PKK, the Abdullah Ocalan party. But the project does not even receive acclaim from other Kurds. Even less by Muslim tribes and us Christians”. This is how the Syrian Catholic Archbishop Behnam Hindo describes to Fides Agency the reactions among the local population with regards to the rumors about the possible creation of an autonomous area in northeastern Syria, in fact subtracted by the control of the central government in Damascus.

Recently, the Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD, Syrian expression of the Karkerên Kurdistan Party (PKK ) has declared “the intention of creating a Kurdish autonomous region in the Syrian province of Jazira. “During the committee meetings which bring together the heads of different ethnic and religious communities”, explains Archbishop Hindo, titular of the eparchy of Hassaké – Nisibi “we have already rejected the proposal to create a constituent Assembly and a popular Assembly that proclaimed the autonomy of the region. Not even the majority of the Kurds want to create an autonomous political entity where the leadership is exercised by the dominant ethnic or religious group. At most one can propose a confederation of local communities that will set new relations with the central government in Damascus. Historically, the resources produced in the province of Jazira have always been looted by the state administration. This will no longer happen”. Archbishop Hindo frames the autonomist tendencies inspired by the PKK in the context of the ongoing conflict: “In this area of Syria, the PKK Kurdish militias are holding a clash with Islamist groups affiliated with Al- Qaeda”.

http://www.fides.org

Assyrian International News Agency

‘Turkey’s Partiality’ Adds to Bloodshed in Region

By , August 26, 2013 4:47 am

The Turkish government’s biased approach in regional foreign policy is one of the main factors behind the escalating bloodshed in the “Islamic world,” the main opposition leader has said, while also slamming Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for crying in front of cameras, which he described as “pitiful.”

The remarks from Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu came in a speech delivered in the town of Bayat in the western Anatolian province of Afyonkarahisar, which he was visiting on the 91st anniversary of the “Great Offensive” against Greek forces during the War of Independence.

Despite the government’s self-proclaimed foreign policy of “zero problem with neighbors,” Kılıçdaroğlu said Turkey was no longer friends with any of its neighboring countries, including Iran, Iraq and Syria. He described the use of chemical weapons in Syria as “a crime against humanity,” while claiming that the only place in the world that was scene of such bloodshed was the Islamic world.

‘Training in Turkey’

“Such blood is not shed anywhere else. But it is shed in the Islamic world. Why? We are taking sides,” he was quoted as saying by the Anadolu Agency. “We are training them in Turkey, sending them away to kill his sibling. Isn’t it a shame, a sin?” Kılıçdaroğlu’s words were referring to claims that Syrian rebels have been secretly given military training in Turkey, which have been constantly denied by the Turkish government. In addition to the government’s policies, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself was a personal target for Kılıçdaroğlu, who criticized Erdoğan’s shedding of tears live on television on Aug. 22. Erdoğan cried over an Egyptian father’s letter to his daughter, who was killed by the security forces in Cairo.

After listening to a prerecorded video of the letter being read out, he sat speechless for a few moments with tears in his eyes. Crying in front of cameras does not suit the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey, and such crying was a sign of desperation and pitifulness, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “The Republic of Turkey is a proud state. A proud man is the man who resolves problem of his country and whom we respect, no matter who he is. Arriving at the point of deadlock, falling into a position of gradual loneliness in the world, being dressed down by everybody, and then crying on television screens, do not befit the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey,” he said, adding that “reason should prevail” while governing a state.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com

Assyrian International News Agency

Kurdish Security Forces Shield Region From Iraq’s Security Woes

By , July 24, 2013 3:48 pm

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq — At the last checkpoint on the road leading into the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil, a driver rolls down his window and a uniformed officer peers into the car.

“Are there Arabs onboard?” he asks. Kurds are waved through while Arab passengers are questioned, and almost all are told to get out of the car for further checks by the US-trained Kurdish security forces.

Strict control of access to Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region has helped insulate it against the violence that plagues the rest of the country, where bombings and shootings are a daily reality that has driven thousands of Arabs, including Christians, north seeking refuge.

To illustrate how far removed the Kurdish region is from the security problems of the rest of Iraq, while militants stormed Abu Ghraib prison this week and released 500 convicts, including senior members of al-Qaeda, one of the top headlines in the local Kurdish press was the death of a 14-year-old girl stung by a scorpion.

Stability and security have attracted foreign investors, including some of the world’s largest oil companies, to Iraqi Kurdistan, dramatically improving the standard of living in a region that was once the most impoverished and repressed in Iraq. After years of suffering, even Kurds who complain about corruption and lack of transparency have a stake in maintaining the peace and security of the region.

“The main reason we have been successful in maintaining security is the full cooperation of the Kurdish people with the security forces,” one of the most senior security officials in the region told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.

Kurdish security forces known as Asayesh closely monitor everyone, including the local population but particularly outsiders, drawing on a web of informants across all walks of life. Many Kurdish households are on the government payroll, creating a network of patronage that engenders loyalty to the quasi-state.

“If I see anyone acting suspiciously while driving my taxi, I won’t hesitate to call 106 [the emergency number] and report them to Asayesh,” said a taxi driver in the city of Sulaimaniyah who has worked with the Asayesh for the last 17 years. “As a matter of fact, I have called that number more than a 100 times and reported people who I believed were acting out of the ordinary.”

Asked how the Asayesh operated, he said there were more than 1,000 other taxi drivers like him in Sulaimaniyah alone working closely with the security services, often on a voluntary basis, to help identify potential threats. “There is not a place in this city where we don’t have informers. Ordinary people happily inform on each other and we respond to the most trivial of incidents because we can’t afford to alienate the people who help us.”

The use of intelligence has so far proven effective in the Kurdish region while the central government insists on using devices such as “bomb detector” ADE651, which has had little effect in detecting explosives at checkpoints. Advice on the UK’s foreign-travel website strongly discourages all but essential travel to the whole of Iraq “except the Kurdistan region.”

Emma Sky, who was the governor of Kirkuk province from 2003 to 2004 and later became a political adviser to the US General Ray Odeirno in Iraq, attributed the stability and security of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to the skill of its security services.

“[The KRG] has a professional and sophisticated intelligence apparatus which is loyal to the KRG, and which carefully monitors suspicious activities and controls access into the region,” Sky said in an email interview with Al-Monitor.

Sky, who is currently a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute, where she lectures on the New Iraq and Middle East Politics, considers the legitimacy of the KRG another important factor in maintaining security in the region.

“All political parties [in the KRG] recognize the political process and compete for power through elections. In the rest of Iraq, the legitimacy of the government is disputed by key constituents who feel excluded from the political process,” she said.

But not all Kurdish areas are immune to violence. Around 100 km away in volatile, ethnically diverse Kirkuk, where a security trench is being built around the city, stray plastic sandals and pools of blood marked the spot where a suicide bomber blew himself up in a busy cafe on July 13, leaving 41 mostly young men dead.

Two days after the bombing, I asked a group of young men smoking shisha at the Penjweni cafe in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah whether they ever worried about being targeted. “That thought is not even in the back of my mind,” one young man replied while his friends smiled and nodded in agreement.

A monument in a park in Erbil serves as a reminder of the danger. On it are engraved the names of 117 people who were killed when two suicide bombers tore through the offices of the region’s ruling party in 2004. Following those attacks, the senior official said the security forces had changed their approach, thwarting attacks in the making, sometimes outside the confines of the region.

“We have managed to keep the terrorist groups in check both inside and even outside the region. We have taken the fight to the terrorists … we foil their plots as they are being hatched.”

By Fazel Hawramy
AL Monitor

Assyrian International News Agency

Egypt’s Coup Serves as Anti-Democracy Lesson for Region

By , July 6, 2013 6:43 am

Egypt’s Coup Serves as Anti-Democracy Lesson for Region
By: Jason Ditz on: 06.07.2013 [09:28 ] (58 reads)

Egypt’s Coup Serves as Anti-Democracy Lesson for Region

Islamists See Military Power as Obstacle to Change at the Ballot Box

by Jason Ditz, July 05, 2013

This week’s military coup in Egypt ended the Muslim Brotherhood’s brief rule as a democratically elected government, and post-coup crackdowns against the group have suggested that if another election is held, they won’t be welcome to run.

It’s being taken as a lesson in democracy for groups in the region, especially Islamic groups. The lesson is that democracy simply isn’t going to work for them.

Every call for an opposition faction to try to implement change in a country through political means must always be considered in the context of whether or not that country’s military will allow it. In a region awash with militaries with a long history of cracking down on Islamist factions, the answer is simply no.

In the near term this may be welcomed by some, as abandoning the Egypt model will likely take momentum away from Islamist political movements region-wide, especially in nations with a history of coups.

In the long run, however, barring a popular ideology from political participation must inevitably set the stage for more violent transfers of power, as the failure of democracy to facilitate a peaceful transition of power will encourage such factions to re-visit violence as a means of facilitating change.

http://news.antiwar.com/2013/07/05/egypts-coup-serves-as-anti-democracy-lesson-for-region/

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Iraqi Kurdistan Region Struggles To Cope With Syrian Refugees

By , June 12, 2013 8:30 pm

With the continuously deteriorating security and political situation in Syria, and the growing fighting between government and opposition forces, many Syrian citizens — particularly Syria’s Kurds — have been forced to seek refuge in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. This resulted in a wave of displacement that local authorities in Kurdistan did not expect.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) set up the Domiz camp — which is the only camp for displaced Syrians in the Kurdistan region — to accommodate nearly 10,000 refugees. Yet, with the massive influx [of refugees], the KRG has been forced to continuously expand the camp, while the number of displaced reached 40,000.

In 2004, nearly 4,000 Syrian refugees moved to the camp located in the city of Dohuk, as clashes between the Syrian regime’s forces and Syrian Kurds erupted in the city of Qamishli. These clashes were called the Qamishli events, and resulted in the deaths of a number of demonstrators, and hundreds of arrests by the Syrian regime.

On Monday, June 10, while hosting the French ambassador to Iraq, Denys Gauer, Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani called on the international community and UN organizations to provide Syrian refugees and displaced persons in the Kurdistan region with international aid and donations.

The presidential statement quoted Barzani as saying that the international community, UN organizations and European countries did not provide Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region with assistance, and that Barzani asked him to encourage the international community to help the Syrian refugees present in the Kurdistan region.

Dindar Zebari, deputy head of the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations, told Al-Monitor in a statement that there are more than 145,000 Syrian refugees and displaced persons who are temporarily residing in the three main provinces of the Kurdistan region — Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk.

Zebari explained that there are more than 100,000 Syrian refugees in Dohuk province — on the border with Syria and Turkey — more than 30,000 in Erbil, and nearly 15,000 in Salaimaniyah.

Zebari confirmed that the only support they have received was provided by the KRG. So far, it amounts to more than $ 20 million from the KRG budget.

He added, “More than $ 20 million was disbursed from the limited budget of the KRG in two payments; $ 10 million several months ago, and another $ 10 million two weeks ago.”

The KRG receives 17% of the total federal budget of Iraq. In 2013, the Kurdistan region received nearly $ 18 billion.

According to unofficial statistics, the population in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region numbers more than 5 million.

Zebari noted that the local authorities’ support is designed to fulfill basic needs in the main camp in Domiz, the largest Syrian refugee camp in Iraq.

He added, “There is a plan to build two additional camps in both Erbil and Sulaimaniyah, where 15,000 refugees can be resettled in each camp.”

Zebari confirmed, “There is a need for international support, and we, in the KRG, call on the UN and the UNHCR to include the Kurdistan region [among those countries that are recipients of] international donations to be delivered to Syrian refugees.”

He added, “The Iraqi authorities in the federal government have not yet agreed to disburse specific funds to Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region.”

On international support, Zebari said, “There are conditional international donations for some countries neighboring Syria. Yet, so far there are no international donations to the Kurdistan region and to assist Syrian Kurds who are present in the Kurdistan region. What is available is support by local authorities, while the burden and responsibility fall upon the international community, the UN, and the federal government.”

The Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s citizens complain about the rising number of Syrian refugees in the region, amid an increase in beggars, particularly in major cities.

Zebari added, “I think it is difficult for the Kurdistan region and its three provinces to host an additional number of refugees, yet the border is still open, and displacement continues.”

The Iraqi Kurdistan Region had decided to resettle Syrian refugees there and give them the right to work, and the freedom of movement and education, with the support of the KRG.

Speaking about the shortages in the provision of assistance to Syrian refugees, Zebari explained, “There is a shortage regarding camp management and basic needs. According to expectations, the number of refugees in Iraq will probably reach nearly 300,000 people by the end of the year. I think that the largest percentage [of these refugees], i.e., 95%, are present in the Kurdistan region, and they are a burden on the Kurdistan region and its residents.”

On June 2, an Iraqi official said that more than 7,000 Syrian refugees have returned to the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal in the past few weeks, after the security situation improved there.

Zebari explained that only those refugees in the Qaim district of Anbar were returning, not those in the Kurdistan region. This is because there are complicated procedures and conditions to enter into Iraqi territory, and the Iraqi government requires refugees to obtain a temporary residence permit, which forces those who cannot obtain one to return. This does not happen to refugees in the Kurdistan region.

He stressed, “For the Kurdistan region, there is more openness and a sense of humanitarian responsibility to protect and support the Syrian people. Our border is open, and refugees and displaced persons enter on a daily basis.”

The vast majority of Syrian refugees and displaced people in the Kurdistan region reside in the cities, and among the Kurdistan region’s citizens. On the support provided to these refugees, Zebari said, “Arabic schools in certain areas were open to Syrian families, and support was offered to certain hospitals in areas where [refugees] are present. The ministries of education, higher education, and public health were given instructions to meet the requirements of Syrian refugees in the cities.”

By Abdel Hamid Zebari
AL Monitor

Assyrian International News Agency

Iraqi Kurdistan Region Struggles To Cope With Syrian Refugees

By , June 12, 2013 8:30 pm

With the continuously deteriorating security and political situation in Syria, and the growing fighting between government and opposition forces, many Syrian citizens — particularly Syria’s Kurds — have been forced to seek refuge in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. This resulted in a wave of displacement that local authorities in Kurdistan did not expect.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) set up the Domiz camp — which is the only camp for displaced Syrians in the Kurdistan region — to accommodate nearly 10,000 refugees. Yet, with the massive influx [of refugees], the KRG has been forced to continuously expand the camp, while the number of displaced reached 40,000.

In 2004, nearly 4,000 Syrian refugees moved to the camp located in the city of Dohuk, as clashes between the Syrian regime’s forces and Syrian Kurds erupted in the city of Qamishli. These clashes were called the Qamishli events, and resulted in the deaths of a number of demonstrators, and hundreds of arrests by the Syrian regime.

On Monday, June 10, while hosting the French ambassador to Iraq, Denys Gauer, Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani called on the international community and UN organizations to provide Syrian refugees and displaced persons in the Kurdistan region with international aid and donations.

The presidential statement quoted Barzani as saying that the international community, UN organizations and European countries did not provide Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region with assistance, and that Barzani asked him to encourage the international community to help the Syrian refugees present in the Kurdistan region.

Dindar Zebari, deputy head of the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations, told Al-Monitor in a statement that there are more than 145,000 Syrian refugees and displaced persons who are temporarily residing in the three main provinces of the Kurdistan region — Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk.

Zebari explained that there are more than 100,000 Syrian refugees in Dohuk province — on the border with Syria and Turkey — more than 30,000 in Erbil, and nearly 15,000 in Salaimaniyah.

Zebari confirmed that the only support they have received was provided by the KRG. So far, it amounts to more than $ 20 million from the KRG budget.

He added, “More than $ 20 million was disbursed from the limited budget of the KRG in two payments; $ 10 million several months ago, and another $ 10 million two weeks ago.”

The KRG receives 17% of the total federal budget of Iraq. In 2013, the Kurdistan region received nearly $ 18 billion.

According to unofficial statistics, the population in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region numbers more than 5 million.

Zebari noted that the local authorities’ support is designed to fulfill basic needs in the main camp in Domiz, the largest Syrian refugee camp in Iraq.

He added, “There is a plan to build two additional camps in both Erbil and Sulaimaniyah, where 15,000 refugees can be resettled in each camp.”

Zebari confirmed, “There is a need for international support, and we, in the KRG, call on the UN and the UNHCR to include the Kurdistan region [among those countries that are recipients of] international donations to be delivered to Syrian refugees.”

He added, “The Iraqi authorities in the federal government have not yet agreed to disburse specific funds to Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region.”

On international support, Zebari said, “There are conditional international donations for some countries neighboring Syria. Yet, so far there are no international donations to the Kurdistan region and to assist Syrian Kurds who are present in the Kurdistan region. What is available is support by local authorities, while the burden and responsibility fall upon the international community, the UN, and the federal government.”

The Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s citizens complain about the rising number of Syrian refugees in the region, amid an increase in beggars, particularly in major cities.

Zebari added, “I think it is difficult for the Kurdistan region and its three provinces to host an additional number of refugees, yet the border is still open, and displacement continues.”

The Iraqi Kurdistan Region had decided to resettle Syrian refugees there and give them the right to work, and the freedom of movement and education, with the support of the KRG.

Speaking about the shortages in the provision of assistance to Syrian refugees, Zebari explained, “There is a shortage regarding camp management and basic needs. According to expectations, the number of refugees in Iraq will probably reach nearly 300,000 people by the end of the year. I think that the largest percentage [of these refugees], i.e., 95%, are present in the Kurdistan region, and they are a burden on the Kurdistan region and its residents.”

On June 2, an Iraqi official said that more than 7,000 Syrian refugees have returned to the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal in the past few weeks, after the security situation improved there.

Zebari explained that only those refugees in the Qaim district of Anbar were returning, not those in the Kurdistan region. This is because there are complicated procedures and conditions to enter into Iraqi territory, and the Iraqi government requires refugees to obtain a temporary residence permit, which forces those who cannot obtain one to return. This does not happen to refugees in the Kurdistan region.

He stressed, “For the Kurdistan region, there is more openness and a sense of humanitarian responsibility to protect and support the Syrian people. Our border is open, and refugees and displaced persons enter on a daily basis.”

The vast majority of Syrian refugees and displaced people in the Kurdistan region reside in the cities, and among the Kurdistan region’s citizens. On the support provided to these refugees, Zebari said, “Arabic schools in certain areas were open to Syrian families, and support was offered to certain hospitals in areas where [refugees] are present. The ministries of education, higher education, and public health were given instructions to meet the requirements of Syrian refugees in the cities.”

By Abdel Hamid Zebari
AL Monitor

Assyrian International News Agency