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UNHCR calls for cooperation and solidarity amid efforts to find solutions for the residents of Camp "New Iraq"

Press Releases, 26 July 2012

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) called today for cooperation, patience and understanding of all parties involved in efforts to find solutions for the residents of the Camp "New Iraq" (formerly camp Ashraf) north of Iraqi capital Baghdad. Protection and solutions for some 3,200 current and former residents of the camp are the primary objectives of efforts led by the United Nations to close the camp peacefully and resolve the situation of its residents.

UNHCR is currently assessing individual protection needs of former residents of Camp New Iraq once they are transferred to Hurriya (Liberty) transit centre. "Status determination, however, does not in itself resolve things," said UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Ms. Erika Feller, on return recently from Baghdad. "It must be accompanied by efforts from all concerned, in good faith and in a spirit of international solidarity, to offer resettlement solutions and, in the interim, to assist people to stay safely and decently until such solutions can be materialized".

UNHCR also reiterates its calls to States to respond in a timely manner by allowing for readmission of individuals having had previous links with them or by offering resettlement places or other forms of humanitarian admission. It is hoped that, consistent with its long-standing tradition of generosity and hospitality, the Government of Iraq will maintain the asylum option in Iraq pending realization of solutions for these individuals. UNHCR also appeals to States for financial support including for the host country to meet costs associated with transferring, hosting, housing, assisting and processing the cases of these individuals until solutions have been found.

Former Camp Ashraf has been in existence since the mid-80s. Most of its residents are of Iranian origin. Following a decision by the government of Iraq to close the camp, UNHCR, together with UNAMI has been working on solutions for its population. Those found to be in need of international protection may have the possibility of being resettled to another country. Concerted efforts by the United Nations are being made to resolve the situation of other camp residents in a safe and peaceful way.

There are currently 1,938 individuals in Hurriya transit center. Another 1,286 individuals are still in camp New Iraq, awaiting transfer to the Hurriya transit centre.

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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

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie returned to the Syrian capital Damascus on 2 October, 2009 to meet Iraqi refugees two years after her last visit. The award-winning American actress, accompanied by her partner Brad Pitt, took the opportunity to urge the international community not to forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees who remain in exile despite a relative improvement in the security situation in their homeland. Jolie said most Iraqi refugees cannot return to Iraq in view of the severe trauma they experienced there, the uncertainty linked to the coming Iraqi elections, the security issues and the lack of basic services. They will need continued support from the international community, she said. The Goodwill Ambassador visited the homes of two vulnerable Iraqi families in the Jaramana district of southern Damascus. She was particularly moved during a meeting with a woman from a religious minority who told Jolie how she was physically abused and her son tortured after being abducted earlier this year in Iraq and held for days. They decided to flee to Syria, which has been a generous host to refugees.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

Angelina Jolie returns to Iraq, urges support for the displaced

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie returned to Iraq in July 2009 to offer support to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who remain displaced within their own country.

During her day-long visit to Baghdad, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visited a makeshift settlement for internally displaced people in north-west Baghdad where she met families displaced from the district of Abu Ghraib, located to the west of Baghdad, and from the western suburbs of the capital.

Despite the difficulties in Iraq, Jolie said this was a moment of opportunity for Iraqis to rebuild their lives. "This is a moment where things seem to be improving on the ground, but Iraqis need a lot of support and help to rebuild their lives."

UNHCR estimates that 1.6 million Iraqis were internally displaced by a wave of sectarian warfare that erupted in February 2006 after the bombing of a mosque in the ancient city of Samarra. Almost 300,000 people have returned to their homes amid a general improvement in the security situation since mid-2008.

Angelina Jolie returns to Iraq, urges support for the displaced

Iraq: Angelina Jolie Visits Displaced IraqisPlay video

Iraq: Angelina Jolie Visits Displaced Iraqis

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie recently visited internally displaced Iraqis living in an informal settlement and a formal camp at Khanke, near Dohuk. There, she heard dramatic stories of escape from the more than 20,000 Yazidis who fled Sinjar and surrounding areas last August.
Iraq: The Plight of the YazidisPlay video

Iraq: The Plight of the Yazidis

Tens of thousands of people, including ethnic Yazidis originating from the Sinjar area, have been forced to find shelter in schools and unfinished structures across northern Iraq since fleeing their homes. The UN refugee agency has been trying to help, opening camps to provide better shelter.
Iraq: Preparing for Winter in DohukPlay video

Iraq: Preparing for Winter in Dohuk

Efforts are under way in Syria, Iraq and neighbouring countries to prepare refugees and the internally displaced for winter. But UNHCR remains deeply concerned that a $58.45 million funding shortfall could leave as many as a million people out in the cold.