THE only good news in Iraq comes from the Kurdish semi-autonomous part of the country in the north. Its relative security and economic stability are encouraging many other Iraqis in the centre and south to want to move there. Iraq is a nation on the move. The revealingly named Ministry of Displacement and Migration estimates that more than 200'000 Iraqis have been displaced within the country by violence since February, with more than one thousand families relocating every month; the numbers are probably much higher.Thousands have left for abroad. Explaining why this is happening, a senior civil servant at the ministry said: “threats, rumours, revenge killings, terrorism, kidnappings. sectarian strife, triggerhappy American soldiers and violent crime.” No wonder Kurdistan seems a haven, especially for those living in Baghdad and wanting to escape the endless sectarian violence. But the arrivals are putting pressure on services, accommodation is scarce and rents are rising. Generally, the Kurds are welcoming the incomers, especially the middle-class professionals who are improving the existing services in their specialised fields. However, two questions will soon arise: whether the newcomers will put a strain on the Kurds natural hospitality or whether their presence will encourage the Kurdish government to press its belief that a federal state would be a better solution for Iraq than the present, theoretically, unified state. The Kurds have oil and with the newcomers their ability to sustain a viable state must be improved.


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