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JCC statement on the alarming situation of Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region

THU, 26 APR 2018 19:54 | KRG Cabinet

In a statement released today, the Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Interior’s Joint Crisis Coordination Centre, JCC, appeals to the United Nations and international agencies to assist the KRG in helping Syrian refugees and other displaced people who reside in the Kurdistan Region. 

In the statement, the JCC asks the international community’s assistance, as KRG continues “to provide services and opportunities, health care, education and livelihood to the population under our protection.”

Below is the text of the statement:

The civil war in Syria in 2011 prompted millions of people to seek safety in the neighbouring countries including Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Approximately 250,000 Syrian refugees fled to the Kurdistan Region and have remained under the protection of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) ever since. Today, 37% reside in nine refugee camps in Erbil, Duhok and Slemani governorates of the KRI and the rest are hosted within local communities. These refugee families had left everything behind, were extremely vulnerable and entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance when they arrived. The local population launched fund-raising campaigns and opened their homes to refugee families and the KRG allocated 90 million US dollars from its budget for humanitarian assistance and basic services to the refugees from 2012 to 2014.

This collective response from the government and local population was based on the KRG’s rights-based policy that granted freedom of movement, residency and work permits and free access to the region’s healthcare and education services. The KRG’s rights-based policy remains unique in granting extensive rights and opportunities for the refugees. Our policy has yielded important results in terms of safety and security for the refugees, social cohesion in the region and sustainable refugee management. Our refugee management model has demonstrated that even in the middle of a crisis, sustainable refugee management is possible and yields better results at a lower cost.

Today, the Kurdistan Region hosts more than 1.4 million displaced individuals of which 250,000 are refugees. Overall, our region is host to 97% of the Syrian refugees in Iraq and 40% of the internally displaced Iraqis. Mass-displacement was caused by the war in Syria, the atrocities committed by ISIS, and the military operations to liberate territory from the terror group. The nature of the crisis in Syria and Iraq has turned displacement protracted, preventing the majority of the refugees and IDPs from returning to their homes. In addition, the financial crisis has crippled the Kurdistan region, resulting from the cost of the war and humanitarian crisis, the crash in oil prices, and the federal government’s decision to withhold Kurdistan’s share of the Iraqi national budget since 2014.

As a result, KRG’s civil servants, who make up the bulk of the work force, have experienced delays in their salaries and cuts to benefits and pensions. This has produced a profound, negative effect on civil servants involved in assisting the humanitarian response. Additionally, the unemployment rate has increased by threefold from 3% in 2013 to 14% in 2016 and poverty rate dramatically augmented from 6% to 14%.

The KRG remains committed to its rights-based policy and will continue to do everything in its power to alleviate the suffering of the refugees and provide security, protection, services and opportunities. We do this through our vital collaboration with partners including UN Agencies and local and international NGOs. Yet, the constraints and challenges persist and while funding to the Syrian Refugee and Resilience Response Plan (3RP continues to be severely underfunded. Through this statement, we would like to alert to the federal government and international community that without increased funding, the KRG and our national and international partners will not be able to cope with the pressure and make crucial assistance and services available to the refugee population. 

For 2018, the partners have appealed for 226.8 million USD for the Syrian refugees in Iraq. As of the date of this statement, only 11.3% (25.7m) of the appealed amount has been provided by the international community. This amounts to USD 17 per refugee yearly.

Lack of funding is increasingly forcing the humanitarian partners to reduce the scale and quality of their programs and they are today compelled to suspend many important projects that were planned for 2018. This will have dire consequences for the refugees and host communities who have shouldered the bulk of the burden of the displaced.

We must also draw attention to the fact that the KRI is also hosting 20,700 Turkish, 13,120 Iranian and 697 Palestinian formally registered refugees. This brings the total number of refugees in our region to 274,931 individuals who are in need of different types of support and assistance.

The international community convened in Brussels on 24-25 April to discuss the Syrian refugee situation in the neighboring countries with the aim of reinforcing international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian suffering in the face of a protracted displacement where millions of refugees lack basic life necessities, rights and opportunities. The Kurdistan Regional Government appeals to the donor countries, UN Agencies and international NGO to pay attention to the Syrian refugees in our region and to invest in the sustainable and rights-based model that we have adopted. We need international assistance in order to continue alleviating human suffering and provide services and opportunities, health care, education and livelihood to the population under our protection. 

KRI Refugee Situation - Statistical Overview:

 A total of 274,931 persons of concern (refugees) are in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
 248,382 Individuals (81,000 families) Syrian refugees are registered in Iraq.
 37% live in 9 camps in Erbil, Duhok and Slemani and 63% living in out of camps.
 47% Syrian refugees are female and 53% are male
 34% of Syrian refugees are children aged 0 -11 years
 70% of Syrian refugees in Kurdistan Region of Iraq are either women or children.
 35% Families do not have proper shelter and live in difficult conditions
 32% Families have member/s with a serious medical condition who need special support and care.
 70% Children aged 6 to 12 years enrolled in formal and informal schooling

KRG Ministry of Interior’s Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (JCC)
Erbil Kurdistan Region- Iraq
25 April 2018