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Crisis center emphasizes cooperation before Iraqi ministers' budget talks

By Rudaw 30/11/2018
Hoshang Mohamed, the director of the Kurdistan Regional Governments Joint Crisis Coordination Centre, speaks with Rudaw English on November 30, 2018. Video: Rudaw
Iraq's new Council of Ministers will meet in the coming days to make a determination on the Kurdistan Region's budget share for Fiscal Year 2019. While leaders from the Kurdistan Regional Government want a return of their 17 percent budget share, a pressing and direct question is how much funding from Baghdad will make its way to its most vulnerable communities.

Nearly 1.5 million displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees remain in the Kurdistan Region and its Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (JCC) is concerned that an indebted central government even with international assistance will not suffice.

'We are very much encouraging Baghdad and trying to strengthen our cooperation. We would like them to have some budget allocated for supporting the IDPs in the camps, supporting the administrations in the camps, and also supporting the return process, and also supporting the IDPs after return,' said JCC Director Hoshang Mohamed in an interview with Rudaw English on Friday.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 1,866,594 Iraqis remain displaced. Returnees of the ISIS conflict account for 4,113,624 of the Iraqi population. The population of the Kurdistan Region swelled by 32 percent as it has sheltered 1.8 million IDPs and refugees through the Syrian and ISIS conflicts.

The KRG's humanitarians were also burdened after the events of October 2017, when people from the disputed areas fled to the Kurdistan Region from Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, and Darbandikhan.

In the immediate days, Mohamed says they received around 200,000 people.

'Some of the people went back so right now we are hosting over 148,000 people from these areas and they haven't been able to go back...' he explained.

Hoshang underscored that people often forget Arabs account for the largest community hosted in the Kurdistan Region. 

'We are very much hoping the situation is ideal so IDPs can go back, but it's not like that if you think it's within months...' said Mohamed.

'If the humanitarian situation is diminishing there will be a catastrophe,' he warned.

He believes the United States has done well in assisting refugees and IDPs through program funding, but wants direct funding to Erbil from Washington.

'One of the key points I would like to highlight here is when they are implementing out, there is less money that goes for the operation and administration of the projects,' said Mohamed.

The JCC recently highlighted Europe's work through the QUDRA programme has been successful because it is direct. 

'If you look at the QUDRA programme, I can say 95 percent of the allocated funds goes to the projects directly — which means benefiting the people — not going to administration and operation because those are ... some NGOs and UN agencies are very expensive,’ he added.

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