ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Region Interior Minister Rebar Ahmed said on Thursday that the South Korean government had pledged $10 million to Erbil and Baghdad in continued assistance packages Seoul has provided to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The statement came in a tweet Ahmed made following a meeting with South Korean Consul General in Erbil Choi Kwang-Jin. “Delighted to meet Mr. CHOI, Consul General of South #Korea,” the minister wrote, adding that the diplomat had informed him of a “generous contribution of the Korean government by donating $10m as humanitarian aid to #IRAQ and #KRG.”
The aid package “is deeply appreciated and is much needed to make a difference for #IDPs #Refugee[s],” Ahmed concluded.
Delighted to meet Mr. CHOI, Consul General of South #Korea who informed me about the generous contribution of the Korean government by donating $10m as humanitarian aid to #IRAQ and #KRG. A move that is deeply appreciated and is much needed to make a difference for #IDPs #Refugee pic.twitter.com/0DRKVi1Yz6— Rêber Ahmed (@RayberAhmed) November 21, 2019
South Korea began increasing its humanitarian assistance to the autonomous Kurdistan Region in 2014, notably to support the education, health, infrastructure, and economic sectors. In 2016, it upgraded its representative office in Erbil to a Consulate-General and cooperation between Erbil and Seoul remains strong.
In July, South Korea pledged a previous $10 million to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, allocating it through UN agencies for humanitarian response, and an additional $300,000 to provide medical aid to Erbil.
In a statement released then by the Kurdistan Region’s Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (JCC), which operates under the Interior Ministry to manage aid response in the region, Erbil welcomed Seoul’s contribution as critical to maintaining infrastructure to help IDPs and refugees.
“This medical assistance comes at a time when the health partners have closed several health facilities and support to the displaced people, and they have decided to close all other health services if the required funds are not provided.”
After years of receiving people fleeing from the onslaught of the Islamic State, the Kurdistan Region has remained a safe haven for over 1.3 million Iraqi IDPs and Syrian refugees, according to JCC figures.
Since last month, over 15,000 additional Syrian Kurdish refugees have arrived in the Kurdistan Region, with more expected, as Turkish government forces and their Syrian Islamist proxies have overrun border areas in northern Syria and displaced up to 300,000.
Editing by John J. Catherine