With the conflict and violence in Syria extending into its eighth year, half of Syria’s population is displaced, including more than 6 million internally displaced, and over 5.5 million Syrians living as refugees in the region, namely in Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. The hopes of millions of Syrian refugees who dream of returning home when conditions are safe continue to be dashed with the ongoing dangers and conflict within Syria's borders. This was made clear in October when new conflict in North East Syria forced over 17,000 Syrian refugees to seek safety and protection in Iraq.
Since 2012, Iraq has generously welcomed Syrian refugees seeking asylum and safety in the country. By December 2019, there were 245,810 Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR in Iraq, with 99 per cent of them residing in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Additionally, the internal conflict in Iraq that began in 2014 resulted in the internal displacement of more than four million Iraqis, of which more than 1.3 million remain displaced.
Although close to 4.6 million displaced Iraqis have returned to their areas of origin, they continue to face difficult conditions and acute protection risks. With the defeat of ISIS, the political situation began to slowly recover and the economy gradually improved, but progress made was threatened when mass protests and civil unrest broke out in the centre and south of the country in the last quarter of 2019.
The deteriorating economic situation coupled with poor basic services and extremely limited livelihood opportunities further hindered host communities’ ability to absorb and integrate displaced communities. Thousands of refugee families continue to live in poor economic conditions and under increased protection risks. Overall, humanitarian needs remain extensive.
Since its inception in 2015, the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) has been at the forefront of international efforts to help neighbouring countries deal with the impact of the Syria crisis, which has taken an increasingly significant social and economic toll as the conflict has continued unabated. In 2019, Iraq only received about 30 per cent of the funding requested in the 3RP to implement activities supporting Syrian refugees living in camps and in urban, peri-urban and rural locations.
The 2020 3RP Iraq chapter is the result of 27 partners working together and is designed to provide support for both refugees and the members of the communities hosting them. The plan aims to provide refugees with protection, food, education, health, shelter, basic needs, water and sanitation, improved camp structures, and livelihood opportunities for vulnerable families.