Kirkuk, 20 February 2018 – Iraqis who have been displaced by recent conflict have an inalienable right to vote, and they should be enabled to participate in the upcoming poll and have a voice in charting the future of their country, the UN Deputy Special Representative for Iraq emphasised during a visit today to a temporary camp for the displaced in Kirkuk.
The visit by the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq for Political and Electoral Affairs, Ms. Alice Walpole, to the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Laylan-1 camp in Kirkuk, was aimed at highlighting the importance of the participation of IDPs in the elections and to encourage them to exercise their right to choose their representatives in parliament.
The visit was jointly organised by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Iraq Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). During the visit, DSRSG Walpole met with displaced families, and took the opportunity to hear about their preparations for voting.
“I continue to emphasise the central importance of the participation of the internally displaced in the upcoming elections,” said Ms. Walpole, who recently visited other camps for the displaced outside Baghdad to advocate for the inclusion of IDPs and other vulnerable groups in a free and fair electoral process. She echoed the need for special measures to be in place to ensure that first time voters and the vulnerable be enabled to register and vote in the elections scheduled for 12 May 2018.
The Director of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in Kirkuk, Mr. Qais Mohammed Khorshid, was on hand to help reassure camp residents that the IHEC will provide mechanisms for the internally displaced to vote in dedicated voting stations within their camps. He also confirmed that mobile registration teams would make a further visit to the camp to enable those not yet registered to sign up. The United Nations continues to provide technical support and advice to the IHEC on election preparations.
Ms. Walpole reiterated the constitutional right of all Iraqis to participate in the elections and encouraged voters to make the effort to come out to vote. “I will continue to advocate for the internally displaced to be able to vote for the future of Iraq. Indeed, I strongly encourage all voters to demonstrate their commitment to their country’s future by turning out in large numbers on Election Day.”
While in Kirkuk, DSRSG Walpole also held meetings with the Acting Governor and local politicians to discuss the political situation and the upcoming elections.
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