Iraq: 10,000 displaced from Christian communities near Mosul

Briefing Notes, 27 June 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 27 June 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In northern Iraq, thousands of people from the predominately Christian communities of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya) have fled their homes since Wednesday evening, following violence close to their community. Displaced people tell us that mortar rounds landed close to Qaraqosh prompting the exodus. Qaraqosh is an historic Assyrian town of 50,000 people, approximately 30 kilometres southeast of Iraq's second largest city of Mosul, where armed opposition groups seized control two weeks ago.

Community leaders say as many as 10,000 people fled by bus, car and taxi into Iraq's Kurdistan region on Wednesday night. Many are women and children. They are now staying with families, relatives and in schools and community centres. Most are in Erbil. They fled in a rush, with little time to bring belongings with them.

Last night, UNHCR supported by dozens of local volunteers who brought their own trucks for transport distributed quilts and mattresses, plastic sheeting and hygiene kits at schools and community centres where the displaced are sheltering. Already, some 300,000 Iraqis from Mosul's Ninewa province and elsewhere have arrived in the Kurdistan region. This latest influx will place further pressure on resources there, particularly housing and fuel supplies. Conditions for these new arrivals will be challenging. In one school we visited, there are already 700 people, and more are expected to arrive. They have no access to showers and there is no air conditioning. They are living in classrooms where daytime temperatures exceed 40 degrees. Thus far, food is being supplied by local charities and international aid organizations. Many of the displaced are concerned about the lack of medical care.

So far in 2014, an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis have been displaced by fighting, including from Anbar and Ninewa governorates. UNHCR has revised its funding requirements as part of the 2014 Strategic Response Plan, and is now seeking $64.2 million dollars for its shelter and protection activities (as part of the broader $312 million appeal launched this earlier this week.) To date, that appeal is only 8 percent funded ($5.1 million).

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Erbil, Ned Colt on mobile, +964 780 917 4173
  • In Erbil, Catherine Robinson on mobile, +964 771 99 45 693
  • In Geneva, Ariane Rummery on mobile +41 79 200 7617
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Crisis in Iraq: Displacement

UNHCR and its partners estimate that out of a total population of 26 million, some 1.9 million Iraqis are currently displaced internally and more than 2 million others have fled to nearby countries. While many people were displaced before 2003, increasing numbers of Iraqis are now fleeing escalating sectarian, ethnic and general violence. Since January 2006, UNHCR estimates that more than 800,000 Iraqis have been uprooted and that 40,000 to 50,000 continue to flee their homes every month. UNHCR anticipates there will be approximately 2.3 million internally displaced people within Iraq by the end of 2007. The refugee agency and its partners have provided emergency assistance, shelter and legal aid to displaced Iraqis where security has allowed.

In January 2007, UNHCR launched an initial appeal for US$60 million to fund its Iraq programme. Despite security issues for humanitarian workers inside the country, UNHCR and partners hope to continue helping up to 250,000 of the most vulnerable internally displaced Iraqis and their host communities

Posted on 12 June 2007

Crisis in Iraq: Displacement

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Aside from a few Palestinians with family connections inside the neighbouring country, the refugees were refused entry and free movement in Jordan. Thousands were soon stranded in the no-man's land between Iraq and Jordan or at the desert camp of Ruweished, located 60 kilometres inside Jordan.

Since 2003, Palestinians, Iranian Kurds, Iranians, Sudanese and Somalis have been living there and suffering the scorching heat and freezing winters of the Jordanian desert. UNHCR and its partners have provided housing and assistance and tried to find solutions – the agency has helped resettle more than 1,000 people in third countries. At the beginning of 2007, a total of 119 people – mostly Palestinians – remained in Ruweished camp without any immediate solution in sight.

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UNHCR has warned that the longer this conflict goes on, the more difficult it will become for the hundreds of thousands of displaced and the communities that are trying to help them – both inside and outside Iraq. Because the burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous, it is essential that the international community support humanitarian efforts.

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