PM Barzani, UK Home Secretary discuss migrant crisis, Peshmerga

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel (Left) and Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani spoke on the phone on Thursday. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel (Left) and Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani spoke on the phone on Thursday. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – During a phone call with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Thursday, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani discussed possible solutions to the ongoing crisis of thousands of migrants, many of them Kurds, who became stranded along the border of Belarus border for weeks. 

On the call, Barzani “expressed concern about the migrant crises on the Belarus-Poland border and the English Channel, stressing the importance of providing humanitarian aid in line with international law and adding that rising terrorism is one of the reasons behind migration,” according to a statement released by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The prime minister stressed “the importance of cooperation between the UK, France, and other EU countries to solve the migrant issue,” with both emphasizing “the importance of taking legal action against the smuggling gangs who deceive the migrants.”

Barzani also expressed the Kurdistan Region’s willingness to cooperate with the Iraqi federal government and European countries to encourage the voluntary return of migrants.

Both Iraq and the KRG follow a longstanding policy of refusing forced repatriations of its citizens, accepting only those who choose to return of their own volition.

In the latest repatriation flight facilitated by the Iraqi government and the autonomous Kurdistan Region, 430 more Iraqi nationals returned to their home country last week after their difficult journey that began with being fraudulently sold costly travel packages by traffickers who promised they would take them safely to Europe.

Read More: Another 430 migrants return to Kurdistan Region in sixth gov't repatriation flight from Belarus

The number of those who have so far returned to the Kurdistan Region has now reached 1,872.

Safeen Dizayee, Head of the DFR told Kurdistan 24 that the regional Ministry of Interior is carrying out an investigation to identify and prosecute the human traffickers involved in the scheme since they are "playing with the people’s lives."

Secretary Patel also offered her condolences to the families of multiple Peshmerga fighters and civilians who have recently been killed in attacks launched by ISIS.

Read More: Daughter of Peshmerga born three days after father killed by ISIS

ISIS militants have recently ramped up their attacks against both civilians and security forces across Iraq, particularly in the north, where territories disputed by Iraq’s federal and regional governments are located.

Since Nov. 27, the militants have killed 23 people, including Peshmerga fighters and Kurdish civilians.