‘Financing problems’ limit EU aid to Syrian refugees in Kurdistan Region

The President of the European Investment Bank, Werner Hoyer, on Monday spoke with Kurdistan 24 of the “financing problem” that has limited the EU’s ability to aid the Kurdistan Region, which has been hosting Syrian refugees for years while shouldering the costs.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The President of the European Investment Bank, Werner Hoyer, on Monday spoke with Kurdistan 24 of the “financing problem” that has limited the EU’s ability to aid the Kurdistan Region, which has been hosting Syrian refugees for years while shouldering the costs.

“I am fully aware of the big burden that is for the Kurdish population,” in the Kurdistan Region and “we appreciate the hospitality of the Kurdish people vis-à-vis the Syrian refugees,” Hoyer told Kurdistan 24 during an interview in Brussels.

Approximately 250,000 Syrian refugees fled to the Kurdistan Region since the start of the civil war and have remained under the protection of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Thirty-seven percent of them reside in nine refugee camps in the provinces of Erbil, Duhok, and Sulaimani, with the rest being hosted within local communities.

As of right now, “In Kurdistan, we cannot operate” Hoyer stated. 

In mid-October, the Council of the European Union extended the mandate of the EU Advisory Mission (EUAM) in Iraq to April 17, 2020, and agreed on a budget of € 64.8 million, effective immediately, until the end of the term.

Highlighting efforts in providing assistance to Iraq, Hoyer said “I hope that the mandate for the European investment bank will also be extended to Kurdistan so we can be helpful” in the region as well.

“There is a big financing problem,” since the EU does not “have a mandate for [the Kurdistan Region]” which it needs in every area it is expected to be active, the official added.

This is in contrast to three other countries hosting Syrian refugees, where the EU is able to provide aid and relatively alleviate hardships of the displaced people of the war-torn country.

“Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan [have]…extended enormous hospitality to the Syrians” and the EU “must help them carry that burden” as they have over the past years.

Editing by Nadia Riva

(The interview was conducted by Kurdistan 24 correspondent in Brussels, Barzan Hasan)