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Iraq: UNHCR Director's mission to region to underscore refugee protection needs

Briefing notes

Iraq: UNHCR Director's mission to region to underscore refugee protection needs

9 March 2007

UNHCR's Director of International Protection, Mr. George Okoth-Obbo, leaves tomorrow (Saturday) on a one-week mission to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan as part of UNHCR's overall efforts to strengthen its protection and assistance programmes for hundreds of thousands of uprooted Iraqis in the region. The Director of our Middle East and North Africa Division, Mr. Radhouane Nouicer, will also be in the region during the week.

With an estimated 2 million Iraqis now in nearby countries and another 1.9 million internally displaced, UNHCR is stepping up its work and its support for the uprooted as well as the host countries that have assumed such an enormous burden. Syria has an estimated 1 million Iraqis and Jordan an estimated 750,000. Lebanon has an estimated 40,000 Iraqis.

As our head of international protection, Okoth-Obbo's mission will be focused on the ongoing effort to ensure that Iraqis fleeing their homeland receive international protection; that the required systems are in place, including efficient registration procedures and the ability to identify the most vulnerable; and that there are programmes for the provision of assistance and solutions, including resettlement of the most vulnerable.

At each stop during his mission, Okoth-Obbo will meet with government officials, members of the UN country teams, NGOs and other partners. He will be in Syria until Tuesday, then travels to Lebanon through Wednesday, and then Jordan on Thursday and Friday. His mission also comes in advance of the UNHCR-organised international conference on displacement in Iraq scheduled for April 17-18 in Geneva.