More than 32,000 people, mostly youths, migrate from Kurdistan Region, Iraq in 2020: advocacy organization

Despite coronavirus-related travel restrictions
File Photo- Undated photograph of a number of Kurdish migrants (File)

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SULAIMANI — Despite closed borders and restricted travel as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, people continue to emigrate from the Kurdistan Region and Iraq in large numbers, fleeing unemployment, endemic corruption, and economic mismanagement.

According to numbers published by the Summit Foundation for Refugees and Displaced Affairs, more than 32,000 people from the Kurdistan Region and Iraq have migrated since the beginning of the year.

Fifteen of those migrants have died during the journey and fifteen others are missing, according to the organization.

Using its own data, the Kurdistan Parliament’s Relations and Kurdish Diaspora Committee came to a similar conclusion, finding that more than 14,500 young people have left the Region so far in 2020. It said that there are 27 migrants missing.

Speaking to NRT, Head of the Summit Foundation Ari Jalal characterized the trend as “alarming.”

“Joblessness is rife among the youth and the coronavirus pandemic has affected the people’s financial situation,” he said, adding that the “lack of good governance and absence of an apparent political future” have also contributed.

Thousands of people left earlier in the decade, mostly bound for Europe, but outmigration had slowed in recent years, before picking up again.

A youth told NRT Digital Media that he is preparing to migrate abroad for a second time, having failed during an initial attempt.

“People depart due to joblessness,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“When you seek and see there is no job, look at the cafeterias and tea shops to see how youths are jobless. That is the reason why they go,” he continued.

“I have no problems. I have money and job. But, I will surely go because I am not happy here.”

(NRT Digital Media)