The Kurdish-led self-administration in northeastern Syria has reached an agreement with the Iraqi government that will allow more than 31,000 Iraqi citizen, mostly women and children, to return to their country, the France-Press Agency (AFP) revealed on April 11.
“A delegation from the Iraqi cabinet visited the autonomous administration to discuss the return to Iraq of displaced Iraqis, estimated to number 31,000, and an agreement was reached … So far 4,000 people have signed up and we are waiting for the Iraqi government to open up the Iraqi border to start,” Kurdish official Mahmud Kero told AFP.
According to Kero, those expected to return do not include suspected IS fighters being held in Kurdish-run jails. The Kurdish official said that they asked the Iraqi government to extend the deal and take back the suspected terrorists. However, Baghdad is yet to agree to this.
Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians fled ISIS-held territory in Syria earlier this year as US-backed forces advanced to end the self-proclaimed caliphate. These civilians were placed in several camps in northeastern Syria, where they are suffering from deteriorating humanitarian conditions.
Head of the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria, Maj. Gen. Viktor Kupchishin, revealed a day earlier that between 10 and 20 people are dying every day in the biggest camp, which is located near the town of al-Hawl in the eastern al-Hasakah countryside.
The camp, which was initially supposed to house no more than 20,000 residents, has now become home to over 74,000 people. The death toll among children there has climbed to 235 recently.
“In the past week, due to the lack of medicines, food and unbearable living conditions, seven children died in the camp,” Maj. Gen. Kupchishin said.
The deal with the Iraqi government will ease the suffering of the remaining civilians in the camp, but a full solution is still needed. Maj. Gen. Kupchishin said that Damascus is offering settlement schemes along with security guarantees to displaced Syrians. However, Kurdish forces and the US-led coalition are not cooperating.
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