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DUHOK, Kurdistan Region — Iraq’s government must “intervene immediately” to aid hundreds of thousands of war refugees who have settled in the autonomous Kurdistan Region, Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani warned.



Meanwhile, he said that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is ready to resolve the outstanding issues with the new government of Prime Minister Heidar al-Abadi in Baghdad, within a constitutional framework.

"We want Baghdad to get involved more and we ask the (Iraqi) prime minister to visit Duhok to see the magnitude of this humanitarian catastrophe,” Barzani said at a news conference. “We also ask the Iraqi president, Mr. Fuad Masum, to visit and closely be informed of the situation," he told reporters in Duhok.

"The KRG told Abadi about the situation and informed him that there are more than 800,000 displaced people in the province of Dohuk, which is not able to provide aid to them. The Iraqi government must intervene immediately to save the refugees,” he said.

According to UN data, a half-million refugees from Iraq and Syria have settled in Duhok province alone, making it the top recipient of the influx into Kurdistan's three provinces.

"There are approximately 31,000 students among the refugees in the province of Dohuk, and schools must be built in each camp," Barzani added, urging refugee teachers in the camps to serve their people and help displaced students continue their studies.

Barzani also touched on the outstanding differences between his government and Baghdad which have been running deep since last year, when Baghdad froze the 17 percent of the Iraqi budget that is earmarked for the KRG.

The row has been over direct Kurdish oil exports through Turkey, which Baghdad labels as “illegal.” Barzani said that the revenues from oil exports did not equal the 17 percent share of the budget that the KRG used to receive.

"The Kurdistan Region did not ask for anything outside the framework of the constitution, and it has not received its 17 percent entitlement of the federal budget,” Barzani said. “The central government should pay us the shortfall (of the budget),” he said, explaining that total oil earnings were less than what the KRG should receive from the national budget.

Barzani reaffirmed that the KRG is ready to inform Baghdad of the details of oil exports. He said Baghdad is welcome to monitor the volume of exports, as long as it does not insist on full control over exports. “As long as those demands are constitutional, there is no obstacle to their implementation," he said.

Referring to the Peshmerga’s fight with Islamic State forces, Barzani said that Peshmerga forces are trying to clear the areas that fell to the IS last month, and facilitate the return of refugees to their homes.

"The Peshmerga forces are seeking to regain control of those areas, some of which are still under the control of IS, and working to restore security to return the displaced people to their homes."

Barzani said that IS appeared to have lost the capability to launch attacks against Peshmerga forces, and was in retreat.

Responding to a question about whether the KRG has sent forces to help the Syrian Kurds fight off IS attacks on Kobane, Barzani said that so far only humanitarian help had been sent.

“No force has been dispatched to Kobane, only humanitarian aid. But Kobane is important to us, like the areas of Kurdistan, and we will explore the possibility of providing necessary support," he said.

 

 

 

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