The Kurdistan Region is hosting 1.8 million refugees and IDPs in camps like this one in Debaga. Photo: Farzin Hassan/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – UNHCR in Iraq says the closure of Erbil and Sulaimani airports has created a problem for displaced persons and refugees needing aid.
In a meeting with Head of the KRG Foreign Relations Department Falah Mustafa, Monica Noro, UNHCR coordinator for the Kurdistan Region, hinted at problems created for them due to the ongoing closure of the Kurdistan Region’s airports to international flights, saying the IDPs are unable to receive international aid.
Baghdad shut the two airports of the Region as part of its punitive measures in response to the September 25 independence referendum, a move which was opposed not only by Baghdad, but by the neighboring and international communities. The central government said at the time that humanitarian flights would be permitted under the flight ban.
The Kurdistan Region is hosting over 1.6 million IDPs and refugees.
In his meeting with the UN refugee official, Mustafa asked for increased assistance for persons displaced from Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu who have been out of their homes since October 16 after the Iraqi army and Shiite militias entered the region.
According to KRG figures, over 154,000 people remain displaced.
Several rights organizations reported indiscriminate attacks against Kurdish inhabitants of Tuz Khurmatu, including arson and looting.
Mustafa hinted at the KRG’s limited resources in responding to the needs of the IDPs as it suffers from a financial crunch.
The head of the foreign relations slammed Baghdad’s inaction in reaching out to the myriad of IDPs hosted by the KRG for more than three years.