Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am pleased to be with you here today in this important meeting to discuss the humanitarian impact of the Mosul Liberation Operation.
On behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government, I would like to express our thanks and appreciation to the organizers for the kind invitation extended to us.
Since the outbreak of the Syria crisis in 2011 and the emergence of ISIL in Iraq in 2014, the people and the government of the Kurdistan Region have been extremely generous in welcoming and receiving Internally Displaced People (IDP) and Syrian Refugees.
The KRG currently hosts 40% of all IDPs in Iraq and 97% of the Syrian refugees in Iraq.
The KRG has done all it can to provide adequate humanitarian assistance, but we believe helping IDPs and refugees is a shared responsibility.
Without increased resources for humanitarian response, the KRG has reached a point that it can no longer sustain its current level of support to those already displaced or take in more IDPs.
We are grateful for the assistance we are receiving but we need much more help. It is quite simple — we cannot take care of a new wave of displaced persons.
The Kurdistan Region has become Ground Zero in the displacement crisis.
We have over 1.8 million refugees and displaced people now, and all estimates are that another 500-thousand will shortly be approaching our area from Mosul.
We know that the liberation of Mosul is approaching and we know that this will create a new humanitarian crisis in the Kurdistan Region.
Similarly to its fall, the liberation of Mosul will undoubtedly have huge humanitarian and security implications for the Region.
We expect another massive wave of displacement into Kurdistan.
The campaign will also pose serious security threats as ISIL fighters might disguise themselves as IDPs trying to enter our Region.
According to our assessment, the military campaign to liberate Mosul will result in the displacement of around one million people.
A looming humanitarian disaster is fast-approaching; it’s a shared responsibility to make sure the required resources are made available immediately and sufficiently to ensure proper and well-coordinated preparedness.
For this purpose, we have prepared a joint humanitarian contingency plan, which has been endorsed by the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. The plan requires $275million to fund basic life-saving assistance to the new arrivals, including food, water and sanitation, shelter and health services.
In order to respond and manage the humanitarian and security consequences of the Mosul liberation operation, we need the assistance, cooperation and contribution of everyone including the Iraqi government, donor countries, members of the coalition against ISIL, UN agencies and international and local NGOs.
I call upon all of you to immediately act to provide the much-needed funds in support of the contingency plan so that we ensure the advance preparation and delivery of life-saving items such as food and non-food items, preparing the ground for potential camps and shelters and reception-centers to help the IDPs.
We cannot turn these suffering people away, but we in the Kurdistan Regional Government have no means to feed them, to provide shelter or water for them.
Our resources are at their limit. We have done all that we can without a massive increase in international assistance.
If we fail to adequately provide for the new influx of IDPs from Mosul, Kurdistan Region will face another humanitarian disaster, which will have unprecedented consequences.
I cannot emphasize this enough — we need to be ready and have all systems in place before this crisis occurs.
It has been said that aid given quickly is aid given twice.
Once this wave of displacement arrives we will have only a few days — not weeks and months — to see to their desperate needs.
Diplomatic language and niceties are a luxury none of us can afford, so I will speak bluntly. Without immediate assistance in advance of the wave of displaced people, hundreds, if not thousands of desperate children, women and men will die for lack of food, water, and shelter.
This is not a choice we are making, it is the terrible reality that there are no more resources available to stop this human tragedy.
It would seem that we are now on the verge of driving ISIL out of its last major stronghold in Iraq. The military planning, coordination, and action that brought us to this important moment must be duplicated in the humanitarian field as well.
History will not forgive us if our military success creates a humanitarian catastrophe.
We are proud to have served as the world’s frontline against ISIL, and we are deeply grateful for the help that has been given to us and for the sacrifices that have been made in our joint efforts.
Let us now duplicate that effort to ensure that the humanitarian project is as successful as the military project has been.
An imminent disaster is now on our doorstep. Our appeal to you, the international community, is the last chance that we have to avert a crisis of historic proportions.
Thank you all very much indeed.