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UNHCR says 'saddened' by self-immolation of Iranian Kurdish refugee

  2021-05-20  | 
 Zhyan News Network
People from Iranian Kurdistan [Rojhelat] hold pictures of Behzad Mahmoudi outside UN compound in Erbil in protest of "UN failure" to meet their demands on May 20, 2021. Photo/Zhyan News Network
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Thursday (May 20) that it is saddened by the suicide attempt of an Iranian Kurdish refugee outside the UN compound in Erbil.

“UNHCR is saddened by the tragic incident that occurred on Tuesday (18 May 2021), when an Iranian asylum-seeker set himself on fire outside the entrance of the UN compound in Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI),” the UNHCR said in a statement.

On Tuesday, two refugees protested near the UN office, one of them set himself on fire citing UN’s negligence to address their demands.

The victim identified as Behzad Mahmoudi, along with his fellow protester were refugees from Iranian Kurdistan, commonly known by Kurds as Rojhelat. He is 25 years old and sources from Erbil hospital said the fire left him with fatal injuries and burns across 91% of his body.

The self-immolation sparked uproar among other refugees and locals who lashed out at the reporting teams for failing to bar the incident.

“UNHCR is following closely with the Department of Health and hospital administration regarding the condition of the asylum-seeker,” UNHCR said

Kurdish refugees from Iran living in the Kurdistan Region are unable to obtain Iraqi citizenship that would allow them to have national rights like voting, land ownership, and passports. Some of them have fled from prosecution in their country of origin.

UNHCR said providing registration and documentation to refugees and asylum seekers will be in accordance with the International Humanitarian and Refugee legal standards.

“UNHCR also provides direct assistance to vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers across Iraq including KRI [Kurdistan Region] regardless of nationality, including protection services, legal assistance, cash assistance.”

(Zhyan English)