The Monument to Halabja Martyrs. The province does not have an official border crossing with Iran and is hopeful Iraq will recognize its unofficial gate at Tawela-Shushme. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A delegation from eight Iraqi government ministries are set to visit the Kurdistan Region’s unofficial border crossing with Iran at Tawela-Shushme on Wednesday. Officials of Halabja province where the gate is hope steps will be taken to officially recognize the entry point.
"The visiting delegation will evaluate the crossing. We have requested for a long time for the crossing to be recognized as international," said Kawa Ali, deputy governor of Halabja province.
The visiting delegation does not have jurisdiction to declare the border crossing official, Ali said, but he hopes they can carry a message to the Iraqi government.
More than 1,000 families in Halabja depend on the border gate for their livelihoods.
"One problem at the crossing is its bad road, so we are asking for its road to be repaired before anything else is done," Ali said.
Tawela-Shushme is located 225 kilometres southeast of Erbil. It is one of the unofficial border crossings that were shut down by the Iraqi government on February 5.
It has now been reopened, Halabja Mayor Nukhsha Naseh told Rudaw on Wednesday. She said it has the potential to become an official crossing because it already meets all the requirements and has the necessary customs offices.
Halabja province does not have an official border crossing with Iran. Naseh said this should compel Baghdad to recognize the Tawela-Shushme crossing so that the province can benefit from border business.
An Iraqi delegation from 10 different ministries visited Kele and Sayran-Ban border crossings in January.
"Our committee has come to investigate the border crossing to be informed about the economic, customs and other infrastructural aspects of it. For the sake of increasing incomes we will send a report to a supreme committee and eventually the decision rests with the central government," Shakir al-Jabouri, the head of the delegation, told Rudaw at the time.
The same delegation visited Sarzeir crossing in Duhok province on Tuesday.