The Kurdistan Regional Government has long adopted an inclusive and welcoming policy free of discrimination based on religious, cultural, ethnic or political identity. We recognize the vital importance of aiding vulnerable civilians fleeing violence and unrest from other parts of Iraq and the wider region.
From 2003 to 2013, the Kurdistan Region opened its doors to more than 600,000 internally displaced Iraqis. The Government and the people of the Kurdistan Region understood that sustainable peace and development cannot be accomplished if some members of society are marginalized, and so we championed inclusiveness by ensuring that these new members of our society were granted the same rights, protections and access to services.
The Syrian civil war has produced one of the largest displacement crises in the world and a significant number of Syrians fleeing violence have sought safety and shelter in the Kurdistan Region. In a sudden escalation of violence, the brutal invasion of the Islamic State in 2014 resulted in the forced displacement of 3 million Iraqis. The situation rapidly developed into a UN-designated level three humanitarian crisis. Offering protection and shelter, the Kurdistan Region once again became a safe haven for more than half of the displaced population and we have continued to keep our doors open.
Today, the Kurdistan Region is offering safety, protection and services to about 260,000 Syrian refugees and more than 780,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from Iraq. In 2014, an average of 80,000 IDPs entered the Kurdistan Region every month. These figures exclude the displaced populations served by the KRG in the neighboring provinces such as Kirkuk and Nineveh. As a result of multiple waves of displacement, at one point the population of the Kurdistan Region had increased by almost 30%, placing immense pressure on existing resources and services and on the host community.
As of the end of 2019, Joint Crisis Coordination Center in Erbil estimates that caring for refugees and IDPs costs the KRG nearly $1 billion USD per year.
It is our priority to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of the displaced populations to their homes. We will work hard to ensure a successful and transparent return process with the best interest of the civilian population in mind. In accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and in order to guarantee safe, voluntary and principled return of displaced populations, the KRG does not have any intention to close the camps where the displaced populations are hosted. Such measures would be in stark contrast to our policy. However, we very much welcome the return of IDPs to their places of origin and we will continue to do everything in our power to support and facilitate their voluntary return.
For reports and publications on the humanitarian situation in the Kurdistan Region please click here.