New report: Those in Mideast fleeing to Europe are ‘not dead-enders’, says Iraqi doctor

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis make the dangerous journey across the Mideast to Europe to escape the violence of ISIS and Shiite militias. But according to the Iraqi doctor who runs a clinic in a Kurdish town, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Dr. Abed Salam Obeidi, a Khazir native who practices in Damascus, said the majority of Iraqis taking the dangerous long-distance trip are poor refugees, victims of brutal government policy, and not dead-enders.

“It is an illegal and destructive idea that Iraq’s Kurdish people should be punished and destroyed by the ruling powers, such as government, Shia militia and army,” Obeidi told Fox News in an exclusive interview.

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“This illegal plan is a call to the Kurdish people to come out and take their rights and live the way they want to. They don’t want to be subjected to the occupation, dictatorship and killings of Kurdistan, which is a state of law,” he said.

And he says those directly affected include the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have flooded into neighboring Kurdish-controlled areas like his clinic in the town of Dohuk. In other words, the Kurdish region is a hotbed of illegal immigrants and migrants from other parts of Iraq and Syria. Obeidi said their continued flight, coupled with the political and military turmoil inside Iraq, could create massive unrest and possibly even disaster for the province.

“Any new social illness in Kurdistan is going to lead to a substantial rise in illnesses,” he said. “Many diseases can emerge, such as cholera and dysentery as new health phenomena, triggered by the refugees.”

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The foreign minister of Kurdistan, Nechirvan Barzani, concurred, adding that the harsh conditions created by a lack of infrastructure and health care in neighboring countries will lead to contagion.

“We are getting reports of people suffering from severe diarrhea, typhoid and other other diseases, including a lot of respiratory problems, coughs and discomfort,” Barzani told Fox News in a separate interview.

“I tell them there is a possibility of a Turkish-Iraqi war,” he said. “No one knows if (Turkish President) Erdogan is going to start a war. There is a chance. I tell people to be very cautious because they could be killed by an air strike from the Turks.”

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Barzani said the government in Baghdad doesn’t help with the medical needs, but instead wants Kurdistan to pay for it. He called the situation “disastrous.”

Obeidi said he has heard dozens of stories from residents of the region that the refugees and migrants are being drugged and sold for rent as labor in oil fields.

He believes the majority of those sold are women, with little or no education, and are then forced to work in increasingly dangerous jobs.

In April of this year, two Kurdish activists, Muhsin Kilani and Georghad Obeidi, were kidnapped near Arbil, capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region. They have not been heard from since.

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Fox News reached out to the Baghdad government for comment. Officials in the office of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said they have not seen Obeidi’s comments and had no comment.

Obeidi said only two Kurdish media outlets cover Kurdish political issues in Baghdad.

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