Iraqi Kurds Brace for Up to 900,000 Refugees from Fallujah and Mosul

IRAQ, Karbala : Iraqi women and children, who fled Fallujah, sit in the back of a truck as they wait at an army checkpoint at Ayn al-Tamer crossing at the entrance to Karbala province on January 6, 2014. Buses and cars carrying families fleeing the fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi …

The Rudaw news service reports that provincial authorities in Erbil expect up to 900,000 refugees to flee the war zones of Fallujah and Mosul into Iraqi Kurdistan, but the central government in Baghdad has been slow to coordinate with the Kurds.

“We suggest that 200,000 to 900,000 IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] will flee to Erbil, and two places have been designated to take in refugees once the battle for Mosul has resumed,” Erbil’s deputy governor Tahir Abdullah told Rudaw.

Abdullah also said thought has been given to a potential flood of refugees from Raqqa, the capital of the ISIS “caliphate” in Syria, when major operations against it commence.

However, he criticized Baghdad for being slow to begin “serious cooperation” with the Kurdistan Regional Government over the impending refugee crisis and said less than half of the money allocated by Baghdad to build refugee camps in Erbil two years ago has been spent.

Baghdad does seem aware that the KRG has been dealing with a large number of refugees from both Iraq and Syria.

“According to data of September 2015, some 3.2 million people have internally been displaced in Iraq, and the Kurdistan region has adopted the majority of that figure, in the sense that they have made up 35 percent of the recent population of the region,” said Aram Sheikh Mohammed, deputy speaker of the Iraqi Parliament.

Rudaw adds that over 500,000 of those refugees have reportedly been housed in Erbil province.

Some of those refugees say they are ready to fight for the Kurdish cause, especially as Syrian Kurdish forces move toward Raqqa.

Refugees from Fallujah might not be in fighting shape when they arrive. The Jordan Times reported on Thursday that civilians who have escaped the clutches of ISIS in Fallujah have spoken of starvation in the besieged city, which now also lacks drinking water, electricity, and fuel.


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