Since the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government in 1992, the Kurdistan Region has become a safe haven for displaced people from different ethnicities, races and religions in Iraq and neighbouring countries. The KRG has displayed committed leadership in welcoming and sheltering displaced people despite the economic and political crises that the region has faced first in the 1990s and later after 2014. When delivering on its humanitarian duties, the KRG has demonstrated an unwavering support for fundamental human rights and principles including individual rights and freedoms, peaceful coexistence, religious tolerance and respect for diversity.
It has been the KRG’s expressed policy to ensure that displaced populations enjoy human rights on equal terms with the local communities, including access to services and opportunities. Despite deepening political and sectarian divides in Iraq and the increasing hardships facing the local communities in the Kurdistan Region, local communities have opened their homes and received refugees from Syria and displaced families from across Iraq as their guests. Refugees and displaced populations across the globe are recognized as particularly vulnerable and at a higher risk of exclusion and marginalization. Yet, the KRG has proven that, with political will, it is possible to build cohesion and peaceful coexistence even under the most difficult circumstances.
Since the 1990s, there have been several waves of displacement inside Iraq and from the neighbouring countries into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. However, since 2003 forced displacement has reached unprecedented levels due to the constant escalation of insecurity, violence and threats fuelled by sectarian conflicts, terrorism and the emergence of ISIS.
Since then, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has successfully built up its mechanisms and capacities to manage large-scale humanitarian and displacement crises to protect and assist millions of vulnerable civilians. While succeeding to maintain security within its territory, the KRG has hosted more than two million internally displaced Iraqis and 300,000 Syrian refugees over the past decade alone. The KRG has taken all measures within its power to receive displaced populations with diverse ethnic, sectarian and religious backgrounds without discrimination. While there are many lessons learned and the KRG is committed to further enhance its humanitarian leadership in the future, it’s documented humanitarian track record demonstrates that the KRG has delivered beyond international humanitarian standards and stands out in comparison to national and regional governments in the Middle East and beyond.