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Kurdistan Region is a great environment for NGO activities

According to the statistics published by the Department of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), 4737 of such institutes have been registered in the Kurdistan Region. From this number, 3967 are Kurdish organizations and 587 others are either Iraqis or foreign. Meanwhile 180 organizational networks have been registered. Last year, 429 Kurdish and 257 Iraqi institutions were authorized.


The NGOs spread across Kurdistan


Barzan Akram Mantk Director General of the Department of Non-governmental organizations told the official website of the Kurdistan Region Government: “Due to the lack of a database in the past, there were no detailed records on the NGOs. Now we have a databank, which tells us that from 4737 NGOs working in the Kurdistan Region, 54% operates in Erbil, 26% exist in Sulaymaniyah, 12% in Duhok, 2% in Halabja, 1% in the Kurdish-populated areas of Mosul, Khanaqin, Diyala, and Salahadin, and 5% established in Kirkuk.”


Authorization of NGOs; easier process and more organizing


The Director General of the Department of Non-governmental organizations said: “we give permission to these organizations according to the rules and regulations. Financial Monitoring Diwan visited us multiple times last year giving necessary instructions, meanwhile other governmental entities including parliament had their own reports. We follow the law in issuing permissions. Individuals who want to register a non-governmental organization must be intellectually and socially appropriate and their organizational tasks must be in accordance with the KRG’s enacted laws, and their works must be in no harm to the Kurdistan Region’s interests.”


Regarding the new rules and regulations for 2023, Akram Mantak highlighted that: “Their department follows the instructions of the Parliamentary Integrity Committee, the Financial Monitoring Diwan and the Parliament taken from their reports as well as enacted rules and regulations in dealing with the requests.”


He also explained: “Before the formation of the KRG’s ninth cabinet, problems existed, but since then issues such as organizations’ tax were resolved.”


Violation public interest is the only reason for revoking permissions


On refuting or canceling legal authorization of NGOs, Akram Mantak explained: “There are two ways for this process: one is willingness cancellation by the register and the other one goes by force and through court. In the first situation, the register will request a revoking of the organization’s permission and our department will then deal with the legal paperwork of the termination process. In the second one, a court can decide on invalidating a permission once it receives a lawsuit approving that the organization acts against the public interests.”


He also added: “Our department is responsible for examining the works of NGOs. The organizations also have legal duties. We deal with them according to the law and within the framework of the constitution. Right now, we registered four civil lawsuits against four NGOs. We also have requests calling for punishment. Meanwhile, we have 14 cases which are now under the Integrity Committee’s review. We are waiting for the court to decide on all of them.”


Kurdistan Region, a great environment for NGO activities


According to The Director General of the Department of Non-governmental organizations, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) believes that Kurdistan Region is the best environment for the activities of non-governmental organizations. The facilitations allow these organizations to work in the region. Meanwhile, the KRG’s parliament and Financial Monitoring Diwan said in their reports that NGOs are expected to conduct their projects more in Kurdistan as they receive services from the region.


Huge number of NGOs work on humanitarian and development tasks in Kurdistan


Regarding the types of the NGOs working in Kurdistan, Akram Mantak said: “There are NGOs working on all significant sectors such as education, health, humanitarian, development etc. All these sectors are assisting and complementing the works of governmental organizations that offer services. Yet, we must know that NGOs are not replacing the governmental organizations, they are completing them. Since the formation of the KRG’s ninth cabinet and the creation of the department’s new staff, we established several boards such as the board of environmental organizations, institutions outside of Kurdistan borders, women affairs, educational and healthcare organizations to create a channel among governmental and non-governmental organizations. Prime Minister of Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani is totally supportive in this field, meanwhile the head of Council of ministers has continued in recommending and instructing.”


“Most NGOs are working in humanitarian and development fields,” he concluded.