KRG turns to oil sector for help with refugees

Sept. 13, 2013 at 7:41 AM

ERBIL, Iraq, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The Kurdish government in northern Iraq said it would match dollar-for-dollar contributions from the energy sector to address a growing refugee problem.

Ashti Hawrami, natural resources minister for the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, said emergency funds were needed to help tackle the "huge scale of the crisis" brought on by the flood of refugees to the region.

He said the KRG was striving for an addition $50 million in funds, noting the government was willing to match contributions from the oil industry dollar-for-dollar.

"Their assistance will make a big difference to the lives and well-being of the refugees and also help the communities in which they are located," he said in a statement Thursday.

The United Nations said neighboring Syria was hemorrhaging refugees fleeing that civil war. The KRG did not indicate from where the refugees were coming, saying only the number of displaced persons in the Kurdish north had passed the 200,000 mark.

"The KRG, international aid agencies, non-governmental organizations and local citizens have all risen to the challenges posed by such a large influx of displaced people, but much more is needed in the way of practical aid to help the Kurdistan region cope with the scale of the crisis," the government said.

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