Hungary will initiate that the European Union (EU) provide immediate USD 300 million (HUF 83 billion) aid for Iraqi Kurdistan for the care of refugees as in the absence of prompt relief, those seeking shelter there will soon set out for Europe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó told the Hungarian News Agency MTI in his statement made on Wednesday by telephone from Erbil.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade will disclose the proposal regarding the aid to be provided for the autonomous region in Northern-Iraq at the Luxembourg summit of EU foreign and home affairs ministers to be held on 8 October. Mr Szijjártó will further initiate that, in addition to EU Member States, the Western Balkans countries, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, Iraq and the Kurdistan region should also be invited to the next conference related to the Western Balkans migration route.

The Minister pointed out that he paid a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan because a significant percentage of immigrants are coming to Europe from Iraq, and this is also true of Hungary where the fourth largest number of asylum claims were submitted by migrants from Iraq. He stressed that, other than in Syria, the humanitarian crisis in Iraq is the second most severe in the world, and additionally, international aid, too, is the lowest there compared with the extent of the crisis.

DownloadPhoto: Zsolt Burger

At present, some eight million people are in need of humanitarian aid in the Middle-East country, including four million internal refugees, and some two million people have sought shelter in the Kurdish region alone. “If the economic and security situation further deteriorates, these refugees will set out for Europe”, the Minister warned.

Mr Szijjártó had talks in Erbil with Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, and the Region’s defence and foreign affairs ministers.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade told MTI that he agreed with Mr Barzani in that the solution to the immigration crisis should be sought outside the territory of the European Union, and that the causes of the crisis must be terminated, and the problems must be tackled locally. On the one hand, the jihadist organisation called Islamic State (IS), which is active in the region, must be fought off, and on the other hand, stability must be created in the Middle-East.

The parties also agreed that if no agreement is reached between the United States and Russia, the resolution of the crisis in Syria cannot be expected in the short term, and this may have a destabilising effect on Iraq as well.

DownloadPhoto: Zsolt Burger

The Minister also paid a visit to the unit of the Hungarian military contingent serving in Erbil in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Parliament decided on the Kurdistan mission in April. Based on the resolution of Parliament, Hungary is sending maximum 150 soldiers to the military training centre in Erbil as a contribution to the fight against the Islamic State.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)