Nearly two million refugees and internally displaced have taken shelter in the Kurdistan region. Photo: Judit Neurink.
DOHUK, Kurdistan Region – Dohuk, Sulaimani and Erbil province in the Iraqi Kurdistan region are grappling with unprecedented levels of poverty, according to a new study completed last month.
It shows poverty levels increasing dramatically from 3.5 percent at the start of 2013, before the outbreak of war with the Islamic State group (ISIS), and shooting up to a record 12 percent in 2015, as Kurdistan strains under the conflict and subsequent refugee crisis.
Unemployment rates have also risen steadily since 2013, from 6.3 percent to 12 percent in 2015.
The study was jointly done by the World Bank, the Kurdish Ministry of Planning and the local Office of Statistics.
The study shows that conditions in Dohuk province are more critical, as it has received more than 600,000 refugees, almost equivalent to the population size of the city.
The benchmark international poverty line, according to the World Bank, is $1.25 a day.
More than 1.5 million refugees have taken shelter in Kurdish controlled areas in Iraq, pushing the already overstretched budget of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Iraq’s Ministry of Migration announced earlier in September that the country needed $4 billion a year in international aid to cope with the growing number of refugees in Iraq and the Kurdistan region.
“Without United Nations assistance, it will be increasingly difficult to meet the basic needs of the refugees in Iraq,” the statement from the ministry said.
Earlier in August the United Nations announced it had shut down its health centers across Iraq due to lack of funding needed to continue to operate 184 frontline health services in the country.
UN officials in Iraq say the world body’s humanitarian partners in the country urgently need $498 million to provide critical services for the reminder of the year.