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Vox Pop: Life in perpetual crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan

Perhaps no area in Iraq has been hit as hard with as many crises as the country’s Kurdish region.

In addition to being engaged in a pitched battle with Islamic State (ISIL) fighters for around three years now, the region is also hosting over 250,000 Syrian refugees, and 3.3 million displaced people (IDPs) from Iraq - with an additional 1.5 million anticipated next month.

All of this is unfolding at the same time as a major economic crisis as Baghdad cuts the region’s budget and oil prices drop.

Al Jazeera went to a market in central Erbil to ask local what they thought of the fact that their region is essentially equated with strife. Some are more optimistic than others, but the combination of the economy and the IDP crisis weighs heavily on their minds:
 

Suahm Mohamed Ma’amo, 40, bank employee

"The IDPs have a big effect on everything – because of this, we face a shortage of oil and gas and other supplies. But the Kurdish people are kind and generous, so we welcome them. We cannot accept that our bellies might be full while the bellies of others are empty."

 

Siraj Ahemd, 23, student

"Thankfully, the situation is quite good – there are jobs and things have gotten better with the Peshmerga and the US liberating 12 villages from ISIL. It’s true that many young people have lost hope and left... but me, I’m going to school and I’m working, even if some opportunities are reduced."

 

Botan Sulieman, 42, bookseller

"These are all bitter things – every human wants to live in peace, in a good place. But it is out of our hands. We are compelled to live in this situation. These refugees, we welcome them and the IDPs…but I’d love to live in a country with no war."

 

Nasegh Rohma, 35, homemaker

"We want it to be better – we want a budget so people can be paid and have jobs, for our [government] departments to be open, to be able to work."
 

 

Wyra Karim, 19, student

"I feel that we’re facing a lot of social problems, economic problems, employment problems. I just finished my last year of [secondary] school and want to go to find work in media, but this situation... it just makes me sad."

 

About the Author

D. Parvaz

D. Parvaz is senior producer for the Human Rights section at Al Jazeera English, where she commissions pieces and reports extensively on the MENA region and Asia, especially Egypt, Libya and Afghanistan. Her work includes coverage of US Constitutional issues and the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disasters in Japan. She's been previously based in Tokyo, London and New York.

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