Iraq Kurdistan vows to address ‘root causes’ of migrant flow at Polish-Belarus border

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The government of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, the source of hundreds of migrants stuck at the Polish-Belarus border, said Wednesday it wanted to address the “root causes” of the problems pushing its citizens to emigrate.

Concern is growing for more than 2,000 migrants – mainly Kurds from the Middle East – who are trapped at the border, with the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday over the issue.

Western governments accuse Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko of luring them to his country and sending them to cross into European Union and NATO member Poland in retaliation for EU sanctions.

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“Regional security issues and the effects of the global recession” are among the factors pushing youth from Kurdistan to emigrate, said Kurdistan Regional Government spokesperson Jotiar Adil.

“The KRG is committed to addressing the root causes of this phenomenon” and would set up a committee to provide recommendations to the cabinet, Adil said in a statement.

“It will also continue to implement reforms aimed at creating more job opportunities for the youth and improving the quality of life for all people in the Kurdistan region.”

Kurdistan, an autonomous area in northern Iraq, presents itself as a haven of relative stability, but is often criticized for restricting freedom of expression.

The region has been ruled for decades by two parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Several Iraqi Kurds have told AFP that a lack of economic prospects and security instability were behind their desire to leave.

“The KRG also urges the Iraqi government to help mitigate the situation by ensuring the Kurdistan region’s full share of the budget is sent on time and to not withhold public salaries,” the statement added.

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