Aug 19 2013
By Fareed Hassan
Azzaman, August 19, 2013
Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani has issued a plea to the international community for urgent aid to the growing numbers of Syrian Kurdish refugees crossing into his semi-independent region in northern Iraq.
Up to 10,000 Kurdish Syrian refugees crossed into Iraqi Kurdish territory over the weekend. There are already more than 150,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq and tens of thousands of them have taken refuge in its Kurdish north.
Those heading north are mainly Syrian Kurds who are fleeing the upsurge in violence in their areas as fighting rages between local gunmen and Islamist groups.
“The migration of Kurds from Syria is a very sensitive issue and we do not wish to see Kurdish areas in the country being emptied of their inhabitants,” Barzani said.
“I urge the international community for a quick response to the urgent needs of Syrian Kurdish refugees,” he added. “The large numbers of refugees are a heavy burden on the (Iraqi Kurdish) region.”
Barzani urged Iraqi Kurds to offer what assistance is possible to the Syrian refuges “who are fleeing oppression and destruction” in their own country.
Barzani is head of the Kurdish regional government which administers the northern provinces of Dahouk, Sulaimaniya and Arbil.
Barzani’s deputy, Kosart Rasoul, has met with a U.S. envoy from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad expressing concern over the influx of Syrian refugees into Iraqi Kurdistan.
Iraqi Kurds have raised their own army and police force and Barzani was reported as saying that he could not remain silent if the influx of refugees continued.
Following his meeting with the U.S. envoy, Rasoul said the U.S. has allocated $44 million to assist Syrian refugees in the Iraqi Kurdistan.