UNHCR launches major aid push for Iraq with 100-ton airlift to Erbil

News Stories, 20 August 2014

© UNHCR
The UNHCR-chartered Boeing 747 disgorges its vital cargo of aid after landing at Erbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region.

ERBIL, Iraq, August 20 (UNHCR) A cargo jet carrying 100 tons of emergency relief supplies landed at Erbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region on Wednesday afternoon, launching a massive UN refugee agency aid operation for hundreds of thousands of people caught in Iraq's worsening humanitarian crisis.

Aboard the Boeing 747 from Amman, Jordan were 3,300 tents, 20,000 plastic sheets, 18,500 kitchen sets and 16,500 jerry cans the first consignment in an operation that aims at bringing in 2,410 tons of aid between now and the start of September.

The aid will target living conditions for almost 500,000 displaced people in the region, many of whom are living rough in unfinished buildings, in parks or by the roadside.

Today's flight will be followed by three others from Jordan on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, carrying 100 tons each. Aid is also on its way by road and sea, with 175 trucks bringing tents, blankets, plastic tarpaulins, and household items across borders from Turkey, Jordan and Iran from UNHCR warehouses in the region and Europe.

"This is a massive logistics operation to bring in relief supplies by air, land and sea to help the hundreds of thousands of desperate people who have fled suddenly with nothing but their lives, and are now struggling to survive in harsh conditions," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

"It's the largest single aid push we have mounted in more than a decade," Guterres said, adding that the combined volume of the emergency supplies on their way to Iraq was 11,306 cubic metres.

Iraq's escalating crisis means that the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq is now hosting more than 600,000 internally displaced civilians, including above 200,000 people who have fled the Sinjar area since early August. UNHCR is working closely with humanitarian partners and the Kurdish authorities in the region to deliver aid.

Once on the ground, many of the airlifted tents will go to Badjet Kandela, Khanke and Zakho camps in Dohuk governorate. Badjet Kandela is being expanded and the other two constructed to house the recent of influx of displaced people. Other emergency supplies will be distributed to people staying in makeshift settlements in Dohuk city, Zakho, Semel town, Akre and Zawita as well as other sites in Erbil and Suleymaniyah governorates in the coming days.

Support for this and further aid deliveries is coming from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Denmark, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and the IKEA Foundation, a corporate partner.

Across Iraq, an estimated 1.2 million people have been displaced so far this year, including more than 500,000 from fighting in the Anbar region which began in January, and more than 600,000 displaced from conflicts in and around Mosul (since June) and more recently Sinjar. The majority of the newly displaced are in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

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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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A new camp for displaced people is taking shape in the village of Khanke in Iraq's Kurdistan region, with the help of UNHCR and its partners. After weeks of uncomfortable living in the courtyard of an old public building, Chenar and her ethnic Yazidi family are looking forward to moving to the new facility.