PA wants Kurdish home for Iraq refugees

Abbas asks Kurdish president for help relocating Palestinians living on Iraq-Syria border (Media Line.)

Abbas Barzani 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Abbas Barzani 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority is setting up a committee to find a solution to the relocation of Palestinians fleeing violence in Iraq. The committee is seeking to transfer Palestinians who are currently living in poor conditions on the Iraqi-Syrian border to the autonomous northern Kurdistan region, controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and to Sudan. PA President Mahmoud Abbas will oversee the committee and the refugees might be transferred to Kurdistan as early as next week, senior Palestinian sources said, according to a report in the Palestinian SAMA news agency. Abbas made an unannounced visit to Kurdistan last week and met with Kurdish President Mas'oud Barazani and Prime Minister Nechervan Idris Barazani. The leaders agreed to help the refugees by providing them with job opportunities and with help for their children with school studies, according to the report. Earlier, Abbas was in Baghdad where he sought protection for Palestinians living in Iraq. The sources said a delegation of Palestinian refugees residing in Iraq was in Sudan a few days ago and met with high-ranking officials there to discuss transferring up to 9,000 Palestinian refugees from the Iraq-Syrian border to Sudan, and giving them education and residency rights. Fatah spokesman Fahmi A-Za'arir told SAMA that a committee made up of Palestinian security personnel was traveling to the Iraqi-Syrian border to assess the situation of refugees there, and examine ways of evacuating them. He could not confirm they would be taken to Kurdistan but said there had been discussions about bringing them to Sudan. Thousands of Palestinians are currently living in refugee camps on both the Syria and Iraqi side of the border, and in no-man's lands in between them. The refugees fled Iraq after the United States-led invasion in 2003. Aid organizations attest to harsh living conditions in the camps and say people there are dying because of lack of medical services. Tens of thousands of Palestinians originally arrived in Iraq as refugees and enjoyed protection under Saddam Hussein's regime, but they have faced continuous harassment since Saddam was ousted in 2003. Some have escaped Iraq and sought refuge in other countries such as Jordan and Syria, but many have been stranded on the borders for several years. Kurdistan is seen as a relatively quiet and peaceful area compared to the rest of Iraq.