The Daesh wolf attacked us three years ago but we expelled it and our Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army will surely evict it from Mosul. But the beast left many victims in dire physical and psychological conditions. We cannot cope with the massive strain of two million and refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), with more to come. Kurds are concluding we are being taken for granted by the international community.
When these fascists captured Mosul and began genocide against Yezedis and Christians hundreds of thousands fled overnight with nothing to their name. The normally five million strong Kurdistan Region ballooned by a third.
We have often been refugees and understand what it means to up sticks and make hazardous journeys to survive. We willingly opened up our schools, churches, parks, and empty buildings and homes but at a cost. Schools started late and pupils lost valuable education. Our once near 24/7 power supply now lasts a few hours while water is rationed.
We also have increased spending on defence and lost nearly 2,000 Peshmerga fighters with ten thousand injured, many horrifically and for life. The Daesh crisis was severely compounded by slashed oil revenues through the dramatic fall in oil prices and Baghdad cutting off our budget entitlements even before Daesh emerged.
Given our legacy of an economy that relies too much on one commodity – energy – and employment by the state, our debt and deficit soared,. Many employees are owed wages or have seen wage cuts while unemployment and poverty have soared. We are taking painful emergency action to align income and expenditure.
Maybe we should have been more vocal when British and other ministers often praised Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan for caring for victims of Daesh but ignored our contribution. The reason is that we are a sub-sovereign region of Iraq, which is formally responsible for internally displaced people but their contribution to looking after our IDPs is woefully inadequate.
The IDP crisis is getting worse. Between October 2016 and January 2017, over 194,000 people fled Mosul and over 96,000 went to Kurdistan. Half a million people remain in Mosul and we expect most to join the exodus to Kurdistan. The Daesh onslaught also shattered trust between ethnic and religious groups and could cause a conflagration of retaliation and revenge. It may take years before they return home.
The latest report from our Joint Crisis Centre, which the British helped establish, details how our hospitals already cannot provide sufficient care for injured Iraqi Security Forces and Peshmerga, and over 10,000 IDP casualties.
Without immediate international assistance to build Kurdistan’s medical care, we face catastrophe. Without international support, hundreds of thousands of IDPs will sleep rough through the cold winter and beyond, causing suffering and deaths. Screening entrants and maintaining internal security for cleared IDPs will surpass our capacities.
Thousands have also been to hell and back – murder, rape, enslavement – and face life-long mental anguish. We lack enough clinical psychologists to help them. NGOs are overwhelmed by this torrent of human misery. We could go under unless our friends act quickly. We are not crying wolf. SOS IDP.
Karwan Jamal Tahir is the Kurdistan Regional Government High Representative to the UK.