UNHCR Chief visits refugee camps in northern Iraq

ERBIL (CIHAN)- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres visited Khazair checkpoint close to Erbil in Kurdistan where every day hundreds of Iraqis – mostly from Mosul to the south, arrive fleeing from violence.

As the fighting in Iraq continues, so does the influx of people fleeing the conflict.

During the trip, Mr. Guterres called for more support to help deal with the crisis. He will also visit some of the 300,000 Syrian refugees currently living in camps across northern Iraq.
Iraqis here are surviving on handouts given by aid organizations.

This week the head of the UN refugee agency, António Guterres, witnessed the hardship people here are facing.

SOUNDBITE (English) António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
“There is no humanitarian solution for this tragedy. These people can receive tents, can receive water, but that’s not what they want. What they want is to be able to go back home, to restart their lives.”

Some 300,000 Iraqis, by official count, have sought shelter in the comparatively peaceful Kurdistan region over the past week. Most fled violence in Iraq’s second city of Mosul.

High Commissioner Guterres asked for more international support.

SOUNDBITE (English) António Guterres United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
“First of all to the international community to be able to provide massive support for the Iraqis displaced, for the Iraqi victims of this conflict, but to also to provide massive support to the government and the people of Kurdistan that is facing the enormous challenge to protect them to assist them not having the resources needed for that.”

Bashar and his family fled with nothing but their clothes and their memories.

When fighting reached their doorstep, they fled to the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

A long, tough journey and memories of home left their mark on the father of five. No longer able to attend school, Bashar’s children now face an uncertain future.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Bashar, Iraqi displaced:
“I want my kids to be safe, to have a home and a stable life. They deserve to leave in peace and stability like children in other countries. Forgive me I am not expressing things wellthe children of Iraq have been betrayed.”

The latest upsurge of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq started last June, when a coalition of armed groups led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) took control of large portion of Iraq and went to proclaim the Islamic Caliphate that includes parts of both Iraq and Syria under ISIS control.