A refugee in Kurdistan just after receiving rations.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – In a meeting with the head of the UN's refugee agency on Thursday, Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said that the number of refugees hosted by Erbil has gone beyond the government’s ability to handle alone and called for the international community to step in with help.
“In order to help all the refugees, the Iraqi government first and the international community second should live up to their responsibility and give them serious assistance,” Barzani said.
He added that government institutions have done their best with local and international organizations to deliver assistance to all refugee camps across the Kurdistan Region.
According to KRG numbers, there are currently more than one million refugees in the Kurdistan Region. More than 250,000 of them are Syrian Kurds and the rest Iraqi Arabs who have fled recent fighting in Mosul, Tikrit and Anbar.
For his part Antonio Guterres, head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), applauded Kurdistan for taking in so many refugees and urged the world to offer help.
At the Khazar camp, Guterres said he was "humbled by the generosity and the solidarity of the government and of the people of Kurdistan in this very difficult moment," the AFP news agency reported.
He agreed with the Kurdish prime minister that the new influx of Iraqi refugees had put greater strain on the Kurdish government and its resources.
“And even without those resources, the government and people of Kurdistan have been receiving all these people and sharing with them everything they have,” AFP quoted him as saying.
Just a day earlier the UN official met with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad, where he appealed for international help for Iraqi refugees.
The KRG’s own resources are overstretched due to a budget freeze by Baghdad for more than six months.