Kurdistan Region celebrates New Year during pandemic with fireworks, crowds
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The skyline of the Kurdistan Region on Thursday night was lit with blasts of fireworks that were launched in celebration of the end of 2020, a difficult year on many fronts.
Like other nations across the globe, these New Year's festivities were muted when compared to previous years, occurring in the throes of the global coronavirus pandemic, of which the autonomous federal region has so far seen over 103,000 cases and more than 3,300 fatalities.
Parties and celebrations at restaurants, bars, and nightclubs were previously announced to be prohibited in a bid to prevent infections, which have recently seen a downward trend.
Residents of the regional capital of Erbil marked the occasion by pouring into the streets of the city and driving around beneath fireworks past shuttered entertainment venues that in previous years were packed with revelers. Many streets and neighborhoods were decorated with Christmas-style lights.
Crowds did show up to some extent in central Erbil, structured around its over 6,000-year-old citadel.
In Sulaimani, residents also took to the bustling streets of the city to mark the New Year. Some strolled on the streets while others appeared to be enjoying their time inside their vehicles.
Kurdistan Region residents have suffered a year of economic distress, caused not only by the pandemic and the resulting historic collapse of oil prices and fiscal disputes with Iraq’s central government over the KRG budget share. Most recently, Iraq’s currency devaluation against US dollar further exacerbated economic woes.
Editing by John J. Catherine