Kuwait, UNHCR sign landmark agreement to aid Syrian refugees

Visit by UN Deputy High Commissioner Kelly T. Clements focuses on aid to Syrian refugees in northern Iraq before key conference in Brussels.

Syrian refugees draw water at Kawergosk camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in March 2014. The Syria conflict is now in its seventh year.  © UNHCR/Brian Sokol

Kuwait City/Geneva – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) today signed an agreement worth US$10 million to improve the living conditions of Syrian refugees in northern Iraq.

The KFAED contribution, the first ever to UNHCR, will have a substantial impact on the water, health, sanitation, shelter conditions in five camps hosting 97,000 Syrian refugees in Dohuk and Erbil, in northern Iraq.

The agreement was signed at a ceremony attended by Kelly T. Clements, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, and Abdulwahab A. Al-Bader, the Director General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

“The generous contribution from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development is extremely welcome and timely, with the number of Syrian refugees in the region now exceeding 5 million people,” Clements said.

“Many Syrian families in Northern Iraq have been displaced for extended periods of time and live in dire conditions. They need our solidarity and our support, now more than ever,” she added.

The KFAED contribution reflects Kuwait’s pioneering humanitarian efforts and is a real commitment to creating a brighter future for refugees, added the Deputy High Commissioner.

Iraq currently hosts over 230,000 Syrian refugees, most of whom are located in the northern part of the country, in Erbil, Duhok and Sulaymaniyah. Over 90,000 Syrian refugees, almost 40 percent, live inside camps, including Domiz 1, the largest refugee camp in Iraq, Domiz 2, Basirma camp, Darashakran camp and Qushtapa camp, where the project funding will be directed.

The Deputy High Commissioner’s two-day mission to Kuwait follows the High Commissioner’s visit last year and comes just ahead of the Brussels conference, Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region Conference in Brussels, on 4-5 April 2017. The Ministerial conference will discuss the implementation of commitments made a year ago to support Syria and outline the way ahead for the refugee response.

Kuwait has previously hosted three international humanitarian pledging conferences, and nine top donors' meetings in support of the international humanitarian response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Kuwait also co-hosted the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in 2016, during which the country pledged US$300 million in support of the Syria humanitarian response over the next three years.

By 2016, the State of Kuwait had provided a contribution of US$360 million to UNHCR for the Syrian crisis and Iraq. In 2015, the country held the position of largest donor per capita and was UNHCR’s sixth largest donor globally.

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