UNHCR Airlifts urgently needed winter supplies to Northern Iraq

Press Releases, 2 December 2013

ERBIL, Iraq December 2 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency has commenced an emergency airlift of urgently needed winter supplies to reinforce its stockpile in northern Iraq with relief items for up to 50,000 vulnerable Syrians.

The UNHCR-chartered Etihad Boeing 777 aircraft landed at Erbil airport this afternoon (Monday) carrying 90 metric tons of various core relief items to help 4,400 families over the winter months including plastic tarpaulins, thermal blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans and kitchen sets.

"While UNHCR has adequate stocks inside Iraq to meet the immediate needs, we want to ensure that sufficient items are on-hand to address any developments," said UNHCR's Amman-based Director for the Middle East and North Africa Amin Awad. "The relief items we are airlifting will reinforce the UNHCR-led winterization regional response as temperatures are starting to drop across higher altitude areas in the Syria region."

Another Boeing 777 flight chartered by UNHCR is expected to land in Erbil later Monday evening with a similar cargo of relief items for some 4,400 families. A commercial cargo flight carrying items for some 1,200 families will land on Tuesday to round up UNHCR's airlift to ensure that relief aid for some 50,000 people in the form of 10,000 family kits are on-hand to help Syrians cope with the rigours of winter.

By commencing the airlift, UNHCR is adding Erbil as one of its regional emergency stockpiles for core relief items. The agency already maintains a global stockpile in Amman, Jordan as well as its global central emergency stockpile in Dubai, UAE.

Media contacts:

  • Jessica Hyba, UNHCR, Erbil, Iraq, mob. +964 780 109 9776
  • Peter Kessler, UNHCR, Amman, Jordan, +962 79 631 7901
• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Syrians stream from their war-torn country into Iraq's Kurdistan region

Thousands of Syrians streamed across a bridge over the Tigris River and into Iraq's Kurdistan region on Thursday, August 15th. UNHCR Field Officer, Galiya Gubaeva, was on the ground with her camera.

Syrians stream from their war-torn country into Iraq's Kurdistan region

Erbil's Children: Syrian Refugees in Urban Iraq

Some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees are children who have sought shelter in urban areas with their families. Unlike those in camps, refugees living in towns and cities in countries like Iraq, Turkey and Jordan often find it difficult to gain access to aid and protection. In a refugee camp, it is easier for humanitarian aid organizations such as UNHCR to provide shelter and regular assistance, including food, health care and education. Finding refugees in urban areas, let alone helping them, is no easy task.

In Iraq, about 100,000 of the 143,000 Syrian refugees are believed to be living in urban areas - some 40 per cent of them are children aged under 18 years. The following photographs, taken in the northern city of Erbil by Brian Sokol, give a glimpse into the lives of some of these young urban refugees. They show the harshness of daily life as well as the resilience, adaptability and spirit of young people whose lives have been overturned in the past two years.

Life is difficult in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The cost of living is high and it is difficult to find work. The refugees must also spend a large part of their limited resources on rent. UNHCR and its partners, including the Kurdish Regional Government, struggle to help the needy.

Erbil's Children: Syrian Refugees in Urban Iraq

A Day with the Doctor: A Syrian Refugee Treats Refugees in Iraq

Hassan is a qualified surgeon, but by a twist of fate he now finds himself specializing in the treatment of refugees. In 2006, as conflict raged in Iraq, he spent 10 weeks treating hundreds of ill and injured Iraqis at a refugee camp in eastern Syria.

Six years later his own world turned upside down. Fleeing the bloodshed in his native Syria, Doctor Hassan escaped to neighbouring Iraq in May 2012 and sought refuge in the homeland of his former patients. "I never imagined that I would one day be a refugee myself," he says. "It's like a nightmare."

Like many refugees, Hassan looked for ways to put his skills to use and support his family. At Domiz Refugee Camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, he found work in a clinic run by Médecins Sans Frontières. He works long hours, mainly treating diarrhoea and other preventable illnesses. More than half of his patients are Syrian refugee children - not unlike his own two boys.

During the two days that photographer Brian Sokol followed Hassan, he rarely stood still for more than a few minutes. His day was a blur of clinical visits punctuated by quick meals and hurried hellos. When not working in the clinic, he was making house calls to refugees' tents late into the night.

A Day with the Doctor: A Syrian Refugee Treats Refugees in Iraq

Iraq: Khaled Hosseini VisitPlay video

Iraq: Khaled Hosseini Visit

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Khaled Hosseini, a former refugee from Afghanistan, met Syrian refugees during a trip to northern Iraq. The best-selling novelist talked to many of the refugees, including an aspiring young writer.
Iraq: Innovation & Refugee ShelterPlay video

Iraq: Innovation & Refugee Shelter

The IKEA Foundation is funding the development of durable and easy-to-assemble shelters for refugees. Syrians in northern Iraq have been among the first to try them out.
Iraq: Separated Syrian FamiliesPlay video

Iraq: Separated Syrian Families

This the story of Suleiman, one of nearly 60,000 refugees who crossed the border into northern Iraq in August 2013. Flight meant many families were torn apart as they searched for safety.