Syrian refugees in Iraq move to a new camp in Kurdistan

News Stories, 9 July 2014

© UNHCR photo
Nariman and her family unpack their total belongings at the new camp that has been opened in Kurdistan to improve the living conditions for Syrian refugees.

SULYMANIAH, Iraq, 9 July (UNHCR) Amid the growing displacement of Iraqis fleeing war in their homeland, UNHCR is continuing to help thousands of Syrian refugees who had fled to Iraq to escape their own conflict. The UN refugee agency has opened a new long-term refugee camp in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region for some of the 225,000 Syrians who registered as refugees in Iraq over the past two years.

The 3,000 residents of the Arbat transit camp in Sulymaniah are moving to a new camp with much better facilities just a 10-minute bus ride away in northeastern Iraq. Although most refugees arriving in Iraq have found their own accommodation, the population of the new camp could eventually reach 10,000.

"The camp was designed at a time when there was a continuous influx of refugees. We believe we will see more refugees come here as they relocate from urban areas, or other governorates, or perhaps run out of resources to rent houses," says Kahin Ismail, UNHCR Head of Office in Sulymaniah.

"We expect the refugees will be here for the foreseeable future given that there is no sign of a political solution in sight for the Syria conflict."

It didn't take long for 44-year old Nariman and her family to pack. Under a searing sun in 40 degree temperatures, Nariman and her three sons worked alongside movers from a local NGO to quickly load their small treasure trove of mattresses, rugs and pots and pans into one small truck.

Nariman and her family fled the violence in Syria 10 months ago with just the clothes on their backs. They had been living in the transit camp ever since. UNHCR spent nine months building the new camp to provide Nariman and her neighbors with a higher standard of living.

Nariman is pleased to be moving because her husband and oldest son, who have serious health problems, will now have access to better care. "My 16-year old son has a blood disorder and my husband has almost gone deaf. There is a larger health clinic at the new camp and I hope they will now get their medicine on a regular basis."

At the new Arbat camp rows of white tarpaulin shelters spread across a former farmer's field, each erected on a concrete base to prevent flooding. Every family has its own shower, kitchen and latrine, features important to Nariman and her growing boys. "Life as a refugee has been tough because I have teenage sons and we needed more space."

Other upgrades at the new camp include pre-fab schoolrooms insulated to withstand Iraq's extreme temperatures, a youth center and a supermarket.

Nariman isn't thinking about returning to Syria anytime soon. Focused on keeping her family together, she has negotiated with UNHCR camp officials to ensure her tent is beside her newly married daughter and son-in law. "We are far from home and it is important for me to stay close to my relatives so we can support each other as much as possible."

By Catherine Robinson in Sulymaniah




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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

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

After Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in Iraq in 2003, groups of refugees who had lived in the country for many years tried to leave the chaos and lawlessness that soon ensued. Hundreds of people started fleeing to the border with Jordan, including Palestinians in Baghdad and Iranian Kurds from the Al Tash refugee camp in central Iraq.

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.

Posted on 20 February 2007

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

The UN refugee agency has launched a US$60 million appeal to fund its work helping hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people. The new appeal concludes that unremitting violence in Iraq will likely mean continued mass internal and external displacement affecting much of the surrounding region. The appeal notes that the current exodus is the largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948.

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.

The US$60 million will cover UNHCR's protection and assistance programmes for Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey, as well as non-Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people within Iraq itself.

Posted on 10 January 2007

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

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