Foundation stone for refugee, IDP registration center laid in Erbil

KRG officials along with Kuwaiti authorities are pictured clapping after laying the foundation stone for a refugee, IDP registration center in Erbil, Sept. 22, 2021. (Photo: Erbil Governorate)
KRG officials along with Kuwaiti authorities are pictured clapping after laying the foundation stone for a refugee, IDP registration center in Erbil, Sept. 22, 2021. (Photo: Erbil Governorate)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The foundation stone for a registration center for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP) in the Kurdistan Region was laid in Erbil province on Wednesday.

This is the first such center to be constructed in the Kurdistan Region.

After it's finished, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) will no longer need to go through numerous agencies for registration since all these procedures can be processed at this new center, Rebar Ahmed, the minister of interior from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) told a press conference on Wednesday.

The United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) is implementing the construction of the center along with the KRG. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development has funded the project.

"The main responsibility of the center is refugee registration," Yousif Mahmood, the head of the UNHCR relations office, told Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday.

In addition to registration, the center will also provide legal consultancy for refugees across the Kurdistan Region, particularly those in Erbil province, which hosts more than 100,000 refugees, according to Mahmood. 

Once refugees and IDPs return to their areas, the building will be converted into a public school, the UNHCR official added. 

In 2014, the Kurdistan Region hosted more than two million refugees, many of whom had fled the takeover of large parts of northern Iraq by the Islamic State group. The region still hosts around a million refugees and Iraqi IDPs, according to Ahmed.

He said the KRG supports the "voluntary return" of the displaced populations to their places of origin.

He also called for more assistance from the Iraqi government and the UNHCR so the KRG can more effectively provide services for these displaced.

The KRG previously announced that it covers 70 percent of the expenses of displaced people.

Read More: KRG covers 70 percent of expenditures of refugees and IDPs: Interior Minister

The Iraqi federal government has almost shut down all the displaced camps under its authority, raising concerns among humanitarian organizations on the wellbeing and fate of the returnees in the war-torn areas.

Also, rights groups have reported that IDPs have been blocked at checkpoints for not having security permits as they've tried to return to their homes.