The 11th Congress of the Kurdish Pen Center will be held in Germany next month, but I can not attend because I do not have a passport.

As an asylum seeker in Iraqi Kurdistan, I am not only deprived of my passport.

I would like to point out the most basic needs that we are deprived of:

Life security:

This is the first thing that Iranian Kurdish refugees living in Iraq are deprived of. The Iranian regime and its security forces can target asylum seekers at any time.

Job security:

Asylum seekers are not eligible for employment in government agencies, and private companies and NGOs still have no pensions or insurance.

Property rights:

An asylum seeker in Iraqi Kurdistan, even if he has lived here for 40 years, has no right to register anything, not even a phone SIM card in his own name!

For example, if an asylum seeker wants to buy a house, he can not register the house in his own name, he must register in the name of an Iraqi citizen. This has sometimes created problems for some asylum seekers.

identification card:

There are many asylum seekers whose children and grandchildren were born in Iraqi Kurdistan, but neither they nor their children have a identification card.

The right to political participation

Asylum seekers can not vote. Not as a voter and not as a candidate.

The right to open a bank account and have a credit card

stack of multicolored credit cards on black background

Another right that asylum seekers are deprived of is the right to open a bank account and have a credit card. Holders of these cards and bank accounts must be Iraqi citizens.

Travel rights:

Asylum seekers can only travel to the four provinces of the Kurdistan Region and cannot travel to the other 14 provinces of Iraq.

Do not have a permanent residence card:

Asylum seekers have to renew their residence card once a year, if their stay is temporary, even after 40 years.

Right of displacement during war:

In 2014, after the start of ISIL attacks in parts of Iraq, many people in Sulaymaniyah prepared to take refuge in Iran if ISIL approached the city, but for me, who fled to Iraq for fear of the Iranian regime, I can not even do so. Oh my gosh!

Deprivation of government support (fuel and food)

One day a government fuel tanker was distributing oil in our alley, people were putting empty barrels in front of their houses and waiting to fill them, the price of this oil is a quarter of the free price of oil. My eldest daughter told us to bring our barrels and fill them like people, she did not know that we are deprived of this right too! As an asylum seeker, we can only buy oil at a free rate, which is four times the price of state oil.


The Iraqi government provides food to all households on a monthly basis. (Oil, rice, sugar, flour, beans, tomato paste, etc.) But asylum seekers are also deprived of this.

Deprivation of government apartments:

Like all facilities, asylum seekers are denied access to government housing.

Driving license:

Asylum seekers can only obtain a second-level driver’s license.
Also, Iraqi citizens can renew their licenses for 5 years at a time, but for asylum seekers, they must renew their licenses every 1 year.

Painful point:
I have heard many times from UNHCR officials that asylum seekers in Iraq have the most rights, but I really do not know which rights they are referring to.
The right to work with a lower salary, without insurance and without a pension?
The right of children to study without having a birth certificate and without any hope of employment?
The right to use health services without having the right, in some cases, to go to other parts of Iraq or other countries for medical treatment … I really do not know. All I know is that next month, too, I, as a member of the Kurdish Pen Center, will be barred from attending my organization’s congress, like many other workshops and training courses outside of Iraq. Other things, like I’m still an asylum seeker after 15 years and I have not changed into a refugee!