AANES receives first batch of Syrian refugees deported from Iraq

Syrian refugees in a camp in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (AFP/Safin Hamid)

Syrian refugees in a camp in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (AFP/Safin Hamid)


The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) stated that the first group of Syrians deported from Iraq has arrived in its controlled areas, from where they will move to their home cities from which they originate.

In a statement today, Wednesday, April 17, it added that Iraq has deported Syrian refugees to northeastern Syria, but some of them come from areas controlled by the Syrian regime.

AANES denied rumors circulating on social media that it is deporting those transferred from Iraq outside of its areas of control, considering it “false and baseless information and propaganda, deliberately promoted to incite strife.”

It also noted that the deportation process by the Iraqi government will continue over the coming days, pointing out that “each person will be taken to the region from which they migrated.”

On Tuesday, Syrian and Arab media reported that the Autonomous Administration forced displaced people in the city of Qamishli to return to their areas due to not having obtained an “expat card.”

AANES’ statement came about a month after the decision by the Iraqi authorities (the central government and Erbil government) to stop granting residencies to Syrians, among other measures that included stopping the issuance of entry visas to Syrians.

On April 6, the Ministry of Interior in the Kurdistan Region issued new instructions regarding the issuance of visas to Syrian passport holders and travel document bearers, as reported by the Erbil-based agency “Rudaw.”

Under the instructions directed in its letter (9934) issued on the 4th of the same month, to the Directorate General of Nationality in the Kurdistan Region, it was decided to cease granting visas to Syrian passport and travel document holders as of March 29, 2024, except for residents of the United States, Canada, and Europe, who may obtain a visa for 30 days for tourism and visit purposes.

Tourists and those who have visas and entered the Kurdistan region before the above date cannot convert them to residencies and must leave the territory of the Kurdistan Region before their validity expires.

Enab Baladi repeatedly contacted both the Iraqi central government and Erbil government to obtain additional information about the deportation of Syrians and the legal restrictions that have been imposed on their lives but received no response at the time of publishing this news.

According to the latest information issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 249,000 registered Syrian refugees are living on Iraqi territory as of the end of January 2021.

Among them, 210,000 live in 13 camps or shelters within the administrative borders of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and 39,726 refugees live in the Iraqi capital and other cities outside the borders of the region.



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