KRG assures citizens studying in Europe of future return home if visas expire amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) diplomats on Wednesday assured citizens studying in Europe they would be able to return to the autonomous region once the coronavirus pandemic passes even if their travel documentations have expired.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) diplomats on Wednesday assured their constituents studying in Europe they would be able to return to the autonomous region once the coronavirus pandemic passes even if their travel documents have expired.

“The persons whose visa has expired or is about to expire and cannot return before an end date will not run into any issues,” the KRG representative to France, Ali Dolamari, explained to Kurdistan 24.

“They can return to the Kurdistan Region after this situation passes.”

The official’s comment comes amid soaring cases of COVID-19—the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that Chinese authorities first reported in late 2019—across Europe, with Italy being the worst-hit country there so far. Italy is second only to China for the total number infected and over double the number of deaths of any other nation.

Spain, Germany, France, and Britain are also among the top ten countries with the highest reported numbers. Iraq has reported 346 COVID-19 cases, 29 deaths, and 89 recoveries across the country, including the Kurdistan Region.

Related Article: Iraq reports highest daily coronavirus cases yet; Kurdistan tightens curfew

Over 464,000 people are confirmed to have contracted the virus worldwide, according to data compiled by WHO. Close to 21,000 have died, as per official numbers reported by governments around the world. However, the rate could be dramatically higher in some instances due to underreporting.

Many Kurdistan Region residents who have gone to Europe on study or tourism visas are now stranded there amid local curfews or flight restrictions by the KRG to prevent the local outbreak from worsening. The Kurdistan Region’s Health Ministry has reported 99 cases and two deaths from COVID-19.

“Most Kurdish students and tourists in Britain and Germany have this issue,” Dilawar Azhgai, the KRG representative to the European Union and Belgium, told Kurdistan 24.

Related Article: Iraq extends suspension of commercial flights

Another diplomat, KRG representative to Britain Karwan Jamal, explained that his office is preparing a registered list for persons who would like to start facilitating the process now of their future safe return to the Kurdistan Region.

“We will create a list and hand it to the Iraqi embassy [in London],” Jamal told Kurdistan 24. The embassy would, in turn, contact both the Iraqi and British foreign ministries so an Iraqi civilian aircraft can return the people to the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, he affirmed.

The KRG on Monday allowed the return of a group of citizens studying in Turkey. 

Universities in the Kurdistan Region have also started plans to offer classes online, as is being done in higher education programs in multiple nations around the world.

Related Article: Kurdistan universities consider online courses amid coronavirus lockdown


Editing by John J. Catherine