UNCHR says civilians lives 'must be protected' after Iranian attack
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In addition to civilian casualties, the Iranian attack on Kurdish opposition parties in Koya affected refugees living in the vicinity as well, a spokesperson of the United Nations Refugee Agency has recently told Kurdistan 24.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) last week attacked the positions of the Kurdish opposition parties inside the Kurdistan Region, resulting in civilian casualties as well as damage to infrastructure. At least 13 were killed and nearly 60 were wounded, per the official tally.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] is leading the response to support those who are impacted by yesterday's attack and according to the Department of Health in Koya, regrettably the attack resulted in nine casualties and 28 people were injured,” Shaza Shekfeh, a media officer of the United Nations Refugee Agency, known as UNHCR, told Kurdistan 24 on Thursday said.
“We are extremely shocked and concerned that the attack has impacted refugee families. It also impacted a school where refugee students were present. Civilian lives must be protected at all times, including the refugees and especially the children," Shaza Shekfeh underlined.
"The UNHCR is in close dialogue with the authorities concerning the immediate needs of the most affected,” she added.
Koya hosts around 500 refugee families who fled Iran. The agency said in a statement on Wednesday said it “is gravely concerned about today’s attack, which impacted the Iranian refugee settlements in Koya, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”
"The attack is reported to have resulted in a number of civilian casualties and injuries, including Iranian refugees – among them are women and children. "UNHCR extends our deepest condolences to all those affected."
Moreover, the UNCHR confirms the attack "reportedly impacted a primary school where refugee students were present."
“We have started engaging with authorities in dialogue since yesterday. Our partners on the ground are providing psychosocial support to traumatized families, especially children who are in school at the moment,” Shekfeh said.
Moreover, she said, “refugee outreach volunteers are showing strength and resilience by supporting their communities as well and offering comfort and psychosocial support.”
“I'd like to extend our appreciation for the work the outreach volunteers are doing on the ground despite these difficult circumstances.”
However, she underlined that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is leading the humanitarian response to the attack. “And of course, UNHCR is closely engaging in dialogue how to better respond to those who are mostly impacted.”
She also said that the UNHCR has been supporting Kurdish refugees from Iran in Koya with cash assistance with the winter assistance, registration, and education services. “They were also receiving health benefits from the public institutions that are available”
She said in line with the ‘one refugee approach, ‘the Iranian refugees in these settlements were receiving the same services as any refugee in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.”