28 February 2017
The KRG Minister of Interior, Karim Sinjari, Minister and Head of Department of Foreign Relations, Falah Mustafa, IOM chief of Mission in Iraq, Dr. Thomas Lothar Weiss and the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Mr. Marc Eichhorn officially opened the Family Assistance Centre in Erbil. The centre is the first of its kind to be opened in Erbil to provide information and facilitate visa issuance for the IDPs and refugees who want to reunite with their families in Germany. The centre is funded by the foreign office of the federal republic of Germany and is managed and run by IOM.
In the ceremony, several KRG’s officials, diplomats and foreign representatives attended.
Minister Sinjar’s Speech at the Inauguration Ceremony:
Ladies and Gentlemen…
Good evening to you….. You are all very welcome
We are pleased to be here today to launch the Family Assistance Centre in Erbil in cooperation and coordination with the IOM and Consulate General of Federal Republic of Germany in Erbil.
On behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Ministry of Interior, I would like to commend the IOM for this initiative and also extend our thanks to the Consulate General and the Federal government of Germany for providing funding to this important project.
At the begging of the Syrian war in 2011 and subsequently ISIS war in Iraq in 2014, millions of people affected and displaced.
The Kurdistan Regional Government, as humanitarian responsibility, has opened its doors and welcomed millions of internally displaced people and Syrian refugees, without discrimination has tried all it can to provide shelter and all public services including security and protection, food, health care, education, and provision of job opportunities etc.
However, the IDPs and refugees situation is not at the level we want, they have many needs and there are many gaps due to the lack of required assistance and funds in comparison to the volume of the humanitarian crisis KRI faced.
This has pushed IDPs and refugees to decide to migrate to the European and other western countries. Yearly, hundred thousands of children, women, men becomes the victim in the illegal migration and become the prey for the smugglers. Additionally, obliged to resort to illegal and informal coping mechanism to earn money for the smugglers.
During the last couple years, we have heard many sad stories of killing, drowning, and death of IDPs and refugees in their way to Europe. They have also faced sexual violence and human organ trafficking and other forms human trafficking by the smugglers.
Even today, this kind of trafficking continues, and the human traffickers are continuing to lure and encourage displaced people to turn them their prey and interests easily.
The lack of specialized centre to provide information and facilitation for IDPs and refugees on how to travel and reunite with their families formally, has had negative impact that IDPs and refugees resort to smugglers.
But the opening of this centre, will have high impact and will be helpful to raise awareness of IDPs and refugees and provide them with accurate information and assistance on visas in formal ways to reunite with their families.
Additionally, the centre will also have impact on the prevention of human trafficking of the vulnerable displaced people and eventually, reducing the number of the victims in their way to reach western countries. They will not become easy prey for smugglers.
We as the Ministry of Interior fully support this project and it is very important for us. For this purpose, last year, we sent a senior delegation from the Ministry of Interior to see the family assistance centre in Gazi Antab in Turkey, we were informed about the benefits of such centres.
We also fully support the expansion of this project to other cities in the Kurdistan Region and expansion of the services to the local citizens here and abroad who want to reunite with their families.
Finally, once again, I commend IOM and the Consulate General of Germany for the inception of this centre. I wish you all success in this important endeavor. We are ready to provide any assistance to ensure successful operation of the centre.
Thank you and once again you are all very welcome….