Iraqi Kurdistan has accepted some 16,700 Syrian refugees since the beginning of the Turkish military operation in northeast Syria and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) considers that managing the situation is a challenge, KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman told SputnikWASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 22nd November, 2019) Iraqi Kurdistan has accepted some 16,700 Syrian refugees since the beginning of the Turkish military operation in northeast Syria and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) considers that managing the situation is a challenge, KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman told Sputnik.
"In the past month or so, we've received 16,700 refugees from Syria," Rahman said. "It's already challenging for us, because we already are taking care of one million displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees."
"Now we're left with one million and that one million is made up of a quarter of a million Syrian refugees and the rest are displaced Iraqis. So, Yazidis, Christians and Muslims as well," Rahman said.
Rahman pointed out that the beginning of the winter season makes it even more difficult to deal with the situation as winter conditions have always posed additional challenges.
"In a way, they're coming at the worst time when all of the resources are already stretched," Rahman said. "But if the numbers continue to rise, I mean there's potential for hundreds of thousands to become refugees. If we hit those kinds of figures, I just don't know how KRG will be able to cope."
"I think that camp is now full, so other camps are opening up for them. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), they are helping, and they have preparations in place for up to 30,000 refugees. But if the numbers go above that, I think it'll be a huge challenge," Rahman said.
On October 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northeast Syria to clear the area of Kurdish militia and Islamic State (banned in Russia) terrorists, as well as to create a safe zone for the relocation of Syrian refugees residing in Turkey.
As the ceasefire came to an end, Turkey and Russia signed an October 22 memorandum in Sochi stipulating that, within 150 hours, the Kurdish militia would be withdrawn to a distance of 30 kilometers from Syria's border with Turkey to the west and east of the operation zone. On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the Kurdish forces' withdrawal from Syria's north had been nearly completed.