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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Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

As world concern grows over the plight of hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians, including more than 200,000 refugees, UNHCR staff are working around the clock to provide vital assistance in neighbouring countries. At the political level, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres was due on Thursday (August 30) to address a closed UN Security Council session on Syria.

Large numbers have crossed into Lebanon to escape the violence in Syria. By the end of August, more than 53,000 Syrians across Lebanon had registered or received appointments to be registered. UNHCR's operations for Syrian refugees in Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley resumed on August 28 after being briefly suspended due to insecurity.

Many of the refugees are staying with host families in some of the poorest areas of Lebanon or in public buildings, including schools. This is a concern as the school year starts soon. UNHCR is urgently looking for alternative shelter. The majority of the people looking for safety in Lebanon are from Homs, Aleppo and Daraa and more than half are aged under 18. As the conflict in Syria continues, the situation of the displaced Syrians in Lebanon remains precarious.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Turkish Camps Provide Shelter to 90,000 Syrian Refugees

By mid-September, more than 200,000 Syrian refugees had crossed the border into Turkey. UNHCR estimates that half of them are children, and many have seen their homes destroyed in the conflict before fleeing to the border and safety.

The Turkish authorities have responded by building well-organized refugee camps along southern Turkey's border with Syria. These have assisted 120,000 refugees since the crisis conflict erupted in Syria. There are currently 12 camps hosting 90,000 refugees, while four more are under construction. The government has spent approximately US$300 million to date, and it continues to manage the camps and provide food and medical services.

The UN refugee agency has provided the Turkish government with tents, blankets and kitchen sets for distribution to the refugees. UNHCR also provides advice and guidelines, while staff from the organization monitor voluntary repatriation of refugees.

Most of the refugees crossing into Turkey come from areas of northern Syria, including the city of Aleppo. Some initially stayed in schools or other public buildings, but they have since been moved into the camps, where families live in tents or container homes and all basic services are available.

Turkish Camps Provide Shelter to 90,000 Syrian Refugees

Displaced inside Syria: UNHCR and its Dedicated Staff help the Needy

The violence inside Syria continues to drive people from their homes, with some seeking shelter elsewhere in their country and others risking the crossing into neighbouring countries. The United Nations estimates that up to 4 million people are in need of help, including some 2 million believed to be internally displaced.

The UN refugee agency has 350 staff working inside Syria. Despite the insecurity, they continue to distribute vital assistance in the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Al Hassakeh and Homs. Thanks to their work and dedication, more than 350,000 people have received non-food items such as blankets, kitchen sets and mattresses. These are essential items for people who often flee their homes with no more than the clothes on their backs. Cash assistance has been given to more than 10,600 vulnerable Syrian families.

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