DFA raises crisis alert level for Iraqi Kurdistan region


Posted at Jun 23 2014 03:57 PM | Updated as of Jun 23 2014 11:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday raised crisis alert level 2 for the Iraqi Kurdistan region, in face of growing security threats in the area.

The DFA reminds Filipinos in Kurdistan to restrict non-essential movements, avoid public places, and take extra precaution.

The DFA continues to closely monitor the political and security developments in Iraq.

Last week, the DFA urged all Filipinos to leave Iraq as it raised crisis alert level 4 for that country.

"Due to the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised the crisis alert level for all areas in Iraq to Alert Level 4 (Mandatory Repatriation) except for the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, which remains under Alert Level 1 (Precautionary Phase). Kurdistan remains relatively calm and stable," the DFA said in a statement.

Under Crisis Alert Level 4, the Philippine government undertakes mandatory evacuation procedures at government expense.

Fuel shortages

On Sunday, Reuters reported that the autonomous Kurdistan region continued to have fuel shortages, as sweeping advances by Sunni Muslim militants further south put a heavy strain on supply lines. The fuel shortages are expected to last for another week.

Queues of motorists, some up to 2 km (1.2 miles) long, have been one of the most visible signs of the militants' battlefield successes in Iraq for the people of Kurdistan's regional capital Arbil, a city filled with new office blocks and Western oil workers barely an hour's drive from Mosul, now in rebel hands.

The fuel shortages have exacerbated pressure on an economy already strained by central government budget cuts and virtual civil war on Iraqi Kurdistan's southern border.

An influx of displaced families, an attack by the militants of the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL) on Iraq's largest refinery and fuel smuggling into insurgent-controlled towns have all hit supplies, though government officials say the situation is slowly easing.

"We are not dependent on Iraq for our fuel, we have our own refineries," one regional government (KRG) official said.

"We expect fuel supplies to be better in the coming weeks. Already the lines are going down," he said, adding a coupon system would be introduced soon to help ration supplies.

Motorists have already been limited to just 30 litres of gasoline or diesel every second day, with fuel supplies prioritised for ambulances and the KRG's 'Peshmerga' soldiers as they fight a series of border skirmishes with ISIL-led groups.

While fuel shortages are relatively common in other parts of Iraq following years of violence and under-investment, the Kurdish region has in recent years presented itself as a stable environment for Western firms to do business. -With Reuters