UNHCR on target to deliver 2,410 tons of aid for Iraqi displaced

News Stories, 22 August 2014

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Workers unload trucks laden with hundreds of tents for families displaced by recent fighting in Iraq. Shelter is a priority for the displaced.

GENEVA, August 22 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday said a massive aid push for some 500,000 displaced Iraqis was going to plan, with a second airlift of aid to Erbil and more flights due today and tomorrow.

The operation began on Wednesday and a second flight landed in the Iraqi Kurdistan city of Erbil on Thursday with more tents. Also on Thursday, UNHCR loaded 16 containers of aid (kitchen sets, blankets and jerry cans) from warehouses in Dubai onto a ship due to sail to Bandar Abbas in Iran on Saturday. From there it will be loaded onto trucks for Erbil.

"This is part of our massive operation to ship in 2,410 tons of aid by air, land and sea over about 10 days for some 500,000 displaced people inside Iraq," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.

In north-east Syria, where thousands of mainly ethnic Yazidi refugees have fled since early August, the airlift of supplies from Damascus to Qamishli is going smoothly. The fourth out of six flights arrived on Thursday with more tents, mattresses, wheelchairs, household items and rechargeable fans.

The aid is being used to improve crowded conditions in the Newroz camp (where an estimated 6,000 people reside), and provide more privacy to the families. Movement in and out of the camp has stabilized in recent days. Another 3,000 Yazidis are staying in nearby towns and villages.

Meanwhile, inside Iraq, shelter remains a top priority for displaced people too many of whom are living in dreadful conditions. The Kurdistan region of Iraq is now hosting close to 700,000 displaced Iraqis, most having arrived in early June.

"While accurate figures are not expected until early September when registration is complete, we estimate that hundreds of thousands are living in unfinished buildings, mosques, churches, parks and schools," Edwards noted.

Citing official estimates, he said half of the 5,746 schools in Iraqi Kurdistan are now sheltering displaced people or the military, raising concerns that they will not be able to open as scheduled for the new school year on September 10.

"While camps are often viewed as a last resort, displaced Iraqis are moving into them as quickly as tents can be pitched such is the enormity of this crisis and the desperate need for shelter," Edwards said.

Currently, there are two tented camps, Badjet Kandela in Duhok governorate and Baharka in Erbil, which are open and housing more than 21,000 people. Twelve more camps will open soon, including three in Sulaymaniyah, six in Dohuk and three in Erbil after which there will be a total camp capacity of more than 85,000. There are also a handful of privately-run camps in Dohuk. Officials from the Kurdistan regional government are reviewing locations for more camps.

Apart from the struggle to meet basic needs for food, water and shelter, a pressing issue for displaced people who fled their homes with next to nothing is a lack of documents critical for being registered and getting cash assistance.

Most displaced people have been unable to replace key personal documentation without returning to their areas of origin. UNHCR is providing legal assistance to internally displaced people to help them replace key documents so they can register for aid and move freely.

"There is also an urgent need to strengthen psychological services for displaced people, many of whom are deeply traumatized with the suddenness of their own flight, the death of loved ones, the separation of families, and horrific reports about the fate of others left behind, killed or captured," UNHCR's Edwards said.

"Our protection teams tells us of continuing reports of women, particularly from minority groups, abducted by armed groups [in Mosul and Sinjar] and held in various locations. Some have reportedly been forced to convert to Islam, and there are reports of others being trafficked by armed groups, inside and out of Iraq," he added.

UNHCR appreciates the support of donors for its Iraq operation, particularly Saudi Arabia which has provided US$88.3 million to UNHCR as part of a US$500 million donation to UN operations overall.

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Iraq: Massive UNHCR Aid OperationPlay video

Iraq: Massive UNHCR Aid Operation

The UN refugee agency is conducting a massive aid operation to assist some 500,000 Iraqis displaced by conflict in northern Iraq. It includes airlifts, and transport of aid by road and sea.

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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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