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Rudaw

Iraq

Kirkuk authorities warn they cannot cope with refugee influx

By Rudaw 6/1/2015
Refugees in Kirkuk. AFP photo.
Refugees in Kirkuk. AFP photo.

KIRKUK - Nearly a half-million refugees have fled to Kirkuk due to violence in the rest of Iraq and live in deteriorating conditions, officials say.

“It is the responsibility of the Iraqi government to provide for these people,” said Kamil Salayi, the mayor of Kirkuk city.

“Their situation is dire and Baghdad should take their needs seriously,” he told Rudaw. “But sadly, the central government is negligent about this.”

Most of the refugees fled to Kirkuk last summer, when the Islamic State (ISIS) occupied much of Iraq’s Sunni areas, swelling a population of thousands more that had arrived fled during the country’s sectarian war in 2005-2008.

The governors of Mosul, Salahaddin and Diyala promised late last year to send a portion of their budget to Kirkuk for local authorities to assist refugees who fled from those provinces.

But Azad Jabbari, head of the migration and displaced peoples department in Kirkuk, said that “those words are nothing but empty promises.”

“We have asked those governors before to at least send these refugees’ food rations and medicines, but they haven’t done anything,” Jabbari charged.

Kirkuk has been under Kurdish control since last summer, and despite occasional bombings it is considered one of Iraq’s safer provinces, attracting many Shiite and Sunni refugees from neighboring provinces.

But despite the large numbers of displaced people, there is only one official refugee camp in Kirkuk.

The authorities say they do not have the means to protect the refugees, especially from the harsh winter temperatures. They have warned that the central government in Baghdad should step in before the situation worsens.

The governors of Salahaddin and Mosul have, meanwhile, asked the Kirkuk governor to lift restrictions at the Maktab Khalid checkpoint to allow people who want to flee from ISIS-ruled areas.

But the Kurdish authorities have expressed concerns that the influx of Arab refugees may change the ethnic balance of the contested city.

Comments

 
Danger | 6/1/2015
Today they are refugees brought in by IS and Baghdad,tomorrow they will add to those were brought in by Saddam deprtating Kurds at the time.Their presence is unwelcomed by the native Kurds who rightly feel danger.Danger of terrorist attacks and later full arabization of Kerkuk.
fermin | 6/1/2015
Is this a joke? after taking in half a million Arabs they suddenly wake up and get all worried about "demographic change"?. No what happened was that the corrupt Najmadin Karim was promised "more budget" from Baghdad if he kept the flood gates open, and as usual the Arab politicians flipped him the finger after they achieved their goal, which was to fill Kirkuk with Arabs. Just like they did with Mala Baxtiar in Jalawla and Saadya, just like they did with mam Jalal and so on. It's becoming clear that many of these PUK politicians are the most corrupt, desperate idiots around, in their greed they're in fact signing their own death sentence because these Kurdish areas they're giving away for free to Arabs are their last and only strongholds left, bye bye PUK.
New Arabization | 6/1/2015
Iraqi refugees are completing the second stage of arabization plan initiated by Saddam.
ARGUSHI (USA) | 7/1/2015
of course this would happen. This is the nature of Iraqi government. They always say one thing and do another.
Kawa | 7/1/2015
I am so tired of this shit, when i bring up kurdish nationalism people attack me. This is why the british and the west divided us in 4 parts. Why? We fight for Islam and the unity of this shit then our own kind. Some kurds fight for socialism, Islam and other shit. When you wake up and love your nation like americans do, then we will have a real kurd parast in every kurd. The jews learn from young age not to forget the bad things that happend to them, what do we do? We forget like a gold fish. I am so tired and gave up my kurdish identity and so did my brothers and sisters. It's all about Mohammed and Ali these days, good luck.

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