Today the Kurdistan Region hosts 97% Syrian refugees and 40% of the more than 3 million internally displaced Iraqis, as a result of the war in Syria, the genocide by ISIS, and the ongoing operations to liberate territory from the terror group. Today, the Kurdistan Region is offering safety, protection, and services to 300,000 Syrian refugees and up to 1.5 million IDPs.
These figures exclude the displaced populations served by the KRG in the neighboring provinces. As a result of multiple waves of displacement, the population of the Kurdistan Region has increased by almost 30%, placing immense pressure on existing resources and services. Thus, the KRG championed for inclusiveness by ensuring that these new members of our society were granted the same rights, protections and access to services. Offering protection and shelter, the Kurdistan Region once again became a safe haven for more than half of the displaced population and continued to keep its borders open.
The liberation of Mosul
Since the start of the operation to liberate Mosul on 17 October 2016, and the further phases as of 28 January 2017 and 19 February 2017, over 390,000 individuals have fled Mosul city and its periphery. The KRG’s latest data show that more than 110,000 individuals of these recently displaced people have arrived and are being cared for in Erbil and Duhok. The eastern part of the city is completely liberated, the liberation of west Mosul is still ongoing. Several hundred IDPs from Mosul are coming to the Kurdistan Region on a daily basis.
Due to the precarious security situation, the lack of basic care and the destruction of Mosul and the villages around Mosul, only a few people were able to return to their communities.
The economic situation
Due to the drop in oil prices, the stop of paying the KRG’s share of the federal budget by the Iraqi government and the tense humanitarian situation, the poverty rates in the KRI have increased threefold, from 3% in 2013 to 14% in 2016. Unemployment rates have trebled in some communities, while the payrolls for employees have been cut or delayed.
Taking care of the refugees and IDPs as well as the maintenance of the camps cost around 120 million USD a month which is almost completely taken care of by the KRG.
The tense humanitarian situation has an immense impact on the health sector. Kurdistan Region’s hospitals are already unable to provide sufficient care for the influx of injured Iraqi Security Forces and Peshmerga, as well as thousands of civilian IDP casualties. There are simply not enough intensive care units, recovery beds, and medical supplies to absorb all cases. Without immediate international assistance to build the capacity of Kurdistan’s medical care, we could be heading towards a catastrophe.
Preventing regional collapse, providing more local support
With the support from the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displaced (MoDM) and UNHCR, the KRG has constructed 5 emergency camps for new arrivals from Mosul in Duhok and Erbil. The finished emergency camps are already fully occupied and accommodated over 26,000 families, 96,000 individuals; with support from the MoDM and partners, five additional emergency camps are being finished to create more space for the continuous flow of IDPs from Mosul. KRI can only receive around 100,000 more of displaced families, once all camps finished.
The Kurdistan Region is on the verge of a breakdown under the extended level-three emergency. Over the past years, the refugee and IDP response plans have remained chronically underfunded. Also in 2016, the two central response plans HRP2017 and 3RP have not nearly received the necessary funding. So far, only 30 percent of the needed financial means where brought up, which does not suffice to meet the basic needs of IDPs. It is the regrettable conclusion of the KRG that without a drastic increase in funding from the international community and financial transactions from the Government of Iraq, the Region will neither be able to cope with the current crisis, nor respond to anticipated new displacements. As humanitarian partners formulate contingency plans, it is paramount to recognize that the Kurdistan Region has exhausted its response and absorption capacity and is at risk of total collapse. KRG remains committed to its humanitarian responsibilities and will continue to voice the plight of the women, men and children in distress. The KRG is thus calling on the international community and the Government of Iraq to provide the region with the necessary resources and technical support to continue offering a safe haven to those in need.
The reconstruction of Sinjar
Sinjar, a city mainly inhabited by Yezidis, which has been recaptured in November 2015 after being under the occupation of ISIS for one year, is heavily damaged and the majority of the private homes are looted. Public buildings, schools, hospitals and social service infrastructure are destroyed. Public and private assets were either destroyed or looted including equipment, furniture and machinery of government institutions, private property, material possessions and livestock of local people and the property of businesses. The costs for the reconstruction of the town are estimated in the double digit millions.