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 Majority of displaced Syrians prefer to live in Iraq's Kurdistan Region

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Majority of displaced Syrians prefer to live in Iraq's Kurdistan Region  4.6.2012  

June 4, 2012

AMSTERDAM, — More displaced Syrians, mostly Kurds, are waiting at the border to allow them to cross into the Kurdistan region in Iraq, amid signs about escalating violence in most parts of Syria.

The news was detailed in the latest report by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), published in US newspaper International Business Times.

The report pointed out that the authorities in the Kurdistan Region are getting ready to receive more refugees. Most of the displaced Syrians seek asylum in the region, after the UNHCR registered, in cooperation with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration in Iraq, a significant increase in the number of refugees.

The report read: "The displacement of tens of thousands of people to Kurdistan is a significant turning point for the political, geographic and economic equation that governs the region.

"This region [Kurdistan], which was a point of dispute over the decades between the Kurds and the central authorities in Baghdad, has become today an ideal resort not only for the displaced from Syria, but also for the fleeing Kurds from Iran and Turkey."

Economic researcher and academic Saad al-Jabbouri, who resides in the Netherlands, said: "The commission believes that the Kurdistan Region, if compared to other countries that receive refugees like Jordan, which is suffering from scarcity of resources, can host the displaced persons under security, economic stability and prosperity. It's the preference of the majority of displaced people, especially the Kurds, to resort to [the region]."

Kurdistan seems to be the best choice for the UNHCR to receive more displaced people if the region's authorities approve the move. This is in light of the complaints about a country like Jordan and its inability to receive more refugees because of the scarcity of resources, such as water. Every displaced person needs about 80 liters of water per day, which is a financial burden on Amman.

Displaced Kurd Saif al-Din Salah, who arrived in the Netherlands last week, said that most members of his tribe migrated to the Kurdistan Region.

"Most of the displaced people prefer to move there because of security and the good treatment they receive there as well as providing services to them. The refugees in the region do not suffer from what others in Jordan and Turkey suffer due to the scarcity of water and medical services.

"The Kurds who arrived in Kurdistan felt great differences between the living condition in the region and Syria, where they had lived in extreme poverty if compared to the living condition in Kurdistan."

On March 31 the UNHCR registered the entry of 4,281 Syrian Kurdish refugees to Kurdistan. Kurds form 10 percent of the total population of Syria, which amounts to some 23 million people.

External relations official Eve McDonnell at the UNHCR said: "More than 20,000 Syrians have registered with UNHCR as refugees since March 2011. There are plans to launch projects with quick results in cooperation with the authorities of the region if it appears that the crisis will last longer, and this is most likely to happen."

Regardless of the conflict in Syria, the Kurdistan Region is witnessing economic development and is attracting investment companies.

With regard to the Syrian crisis, the UNHCR records that an average of ten families and about 70 people are displaced each day to the region. These people are mostly Syrian Kurds, activists and dissident soldiers who are fleeing from the authorities that prosecute them for opposing the regime or for their participation in protests.

Some people also enter the region illegally to get jobs.

Barakat Jalal, a displaced Syrian Kurd who fled to the Netherlands, is seeking to follow his family in the Dumez in Faida district, southwest of Duhok.

Jalal said that he hopes to return to Kurdistan as soon as possible after his family promised to talk to regional authorities and the UNHCR about his situation.

By Adnan Abu Zaid

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