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KRG Prime Minister Affirms Kurdistan Region as a Safe Haven for Asylum Seekers

On Wednesday, 10 July 2024, Masrour Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), attended an announcement ceremony for ‘Organising Refugee Affairs Guidelines’ in the Kurdistan Region. He was joined by Alina Romanowski, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, and Pauline Fresneau from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

During the event, Ambassador Romanowski delivered a speech, followed by the signing of the guidelines by Rebar Ahmed, the KRG Minister of Interior.

Prime Minister Barzani also delivered a speech at the event. Here is the transcript of his speech:

“For many years, the Kurdistan Region has been hosting hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers, refugees from neighbouring countries, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Iraq, without any religious, racial or ethnic prejudice. During the onslaught by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), thousands sought safety in the Kurdistan Region. The KRG took on the task of hosting dozens of IDPs in refugee camps despite the region’s existing financial crisis, and fulfilled its responsibilities despite shouldering the majority of the burden.

“Today, the Kurdistan Region continues to protect and provide shelter for thousands of refugees, asylum seekers, and IDPs who fled their homes due to insecurity and conflict. To date, unfortunately, conditions in their home regions have not yet normalised to enable them to return. The KRG supports a voluntary return of all the refugees and asylum seekers through the normalisation of the situation in their homes to allow them a dignified return.

“In a bid to organise asylum affairs, the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with the UNHCR, has been preparing and drafting administrative guidelines about the asylum seeking process in the Kurdistan Region.

“These guidelines are integral to the KRG’s administrative and legal initiative aimed at safeguarding the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, as well as defining their obligations. They focus on coordinating and organising arrival and reception procedures for asylum seekers, and on establishing their rights and obligations in the region.

“I commend the Ministry of Interior, the team which drafted the guidelines, and UNHCR, for their collaborative work.

“We reiterate, the Kurdistan Region will continue to remain a shining example for hospitality, and a safe haven for all those who seek refuge from persecution, oppression, terrorism, and intimidation.

“Although we have been facing a tough financial situation, we remain committed in providing public services such as education, healthcare, security, and essential needs to IDPs, refugees, and asylum-seekers. We hope that the federal government and the international community will also assist the Kurdistan Region to maintain these services to the refugees and asylum-seekers until conditions in their home countries allow them a dignified return.”

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