The UNâ€™s doors are closed and they are not even willing to speak to us
Prepared by: Bahast Bakhtyar Translated by: Ranw Samal
In the year 2001, the United Nations selected June 20th as an annual day to celebrate refugees. On this day, several documents and complaints were released to the UN regarding the poor conditions that refugees live in.
The manager of civil development organization, Bakhtyar Ahmad, informed Rewan that: we have had a number of obstacles, these obstacles are related to the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO), since the emergence of the first case in Sulaymanyiah, they have been doing all their work online and no one has seen them. The refugees are therefore unable to contact them, which in my opinion has caused in the UN to go weak in its services and be unable to provide the help that was needed by the people, especially during these tough times.
Additionally, refugees have the issue of green cards. Without them, they cannot have jobs, move around the city, or rent houses. This is a problem that was present even before COVID-19 emerged. UNHCR is responsible for this because they moved their registration center from Suli to Arbat and they promised refugees that they would be back in Suli within three months, however it has been a year now, and they have not fulfilled that promise. With the outbreak of COVID-19, the entire staff has been on leave and no one has worked, which has stopped the renewal of refugee forms.
Moreover, Kamaran Ali, an employee in the UN, stated that: regarding the criticism and complains, we have not received any, that is their personal opinion and we see the situation as the exact opposite. We cannot answer whether our services have grown weak or not. We are not claiming that our work has been going normally and smoothly, but we have not been hindered so far. We also have hotlines and the numbers are in the possession of many organizations and refugees, any concerns that may be present with the refugees can be delivered to us and we will answer.
As for UNICEF, we have temporarily suspended all our programs. However, the programs regarding the lives of refugees and IDPs have not stopped. This is not only UNHCR’s decision, but all of the Arabian UN organizations.
The manager of eastern refugees committee, Raza Ahmad, believes that the UN is: a closed organization that has been shut down for five months due to the spread of COVID-19 and that they are unwilling to even speak to us. So what are these people supposed to do with all these problems they have? We are under the supervision of the UN and our work is run by the UN, however we unfortunately feel like there is a vast difference and change in their work, have not been responsive enough to us, and do not hold themselves responsible for the refugees in the east and whatever work they do they just perform in order to provide ‘proof’ that they have been active.
In a sitting we had on December 28th, we discussed these matters with them and we even let them know that we had financial and legal problems.
In response, they tell us that our circumstance is much better than that of the other refugees, while in fact that is not the case and the circumstance is very bad for the refugees financially and legally.
He also added that the UN: “prioritize the refugees, and among them, gives special attention to the refugees in camps, while there are other refugees and IDPs. And that the matter of IDPs has become a political subject and they don’t view it as a humanitarian case any longer and are no longer willing to help them.
Unfortunately UNHCR have been neglecting the fact that there are a large number of Syrian refugees and do not pay them much attention, or do not care much for the subject of eastern refugees in general? As a result of our constant pressuring, they used a small amount of money to a very small number of refugees, and this was done without any type of system or plan without giving us any information regarding the money that was spent or being willing to give us any sort of data regarding the refugees at all.
Regarding the renewal of residency, it takes a long time, which is around three to four months, which creates a lot of burdens and expenses for the refugees. Our problems are much larger; we have the issue of the UN not responding to the cases of refugees”.
The manager of the committee of western Kurdish refugees, Haji Afreen, stated that: “our problems are large in number regarding the refugees outside of the camps and we have informed the UN. In response, they have informed us that this issue is not in included in our programs or that we will try to help, while in reality and in the practical field there is nothing and they have not come to our aid.
Additionally, regarding residencies, we are aware that the UN headquarters are currently closed, and they have stated that once they are reopened they will solve the problem of residency, but we don’t know if they will or not”.