As of 31 December 2014, according to the latest estimate from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 225,746 Syrians were seeking refuge in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) due to the Syrian conflict, which began in 2011. At the time of writing 92,467 Syrian refugees were registered in nine camps or settlements located throughout the three governorates of the KRI, with 188,934 registered as living in host communities. The overwhelming majority of refugees arrived from Syria between August and November 2013 following the formal opening of the border with the KRI. By May 2014 the protracted refugee crisis had stabilised somewhat, but another influx of nearly 22,000 newly registered refugees has occurred since September with families fleeing conflict in Kobane, Syria
Since June 2014 the eruption of an internal displacement crisis in wider Iraq has further congested humanitarian space, stretching thin available funding and resources of humanitarian actors in the area. 798,492 displaced Iraqi individuals are now estimated to be residing across the KRI4, forced from their areas of origin following the escalation of violence that began in Anbar in December 2013 and spread to much of northern and central Iraq since June 2014. With the recent arrival of Iraqi internally displaced persons (IDPs), competition for accommodation and jobs both in camps and host communities has risen sharply. The combined number of Syrian refugees and Iraqi IDPs in the KRI now amounts to roughly 20% of the population of the region (five million).
The REACH Initiative (REACH) has been actively supporting information management efforts undertaken by humanitarian actors in Iraq since November 2012. In consultation with the Protection Working Group (PWG) of Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah Governorates of the KRI and the UNHCR Protection Unit, REACH was mobilised to assess any intended movements of Syrian refugee households between host communities and camps, between and within camps, and from camps outside the KRI. This assessment also aims to understand if the intentions of Syrian refugees in camps have altered since the arrival of IDPs, in order to gain a better understanding of refugee intentions overall, that will inform decision-making, planning and targeting of aid by humanitarian actors responding to the needs of Syrian Refugees across the KRI.
The assessment involved two rounds of primary data collection. The first round was based on mixed-methods data collection, including a household-level survey and focus group discussions (FGDs), in order to triangulate information and gather more qualitative data. In total, 729 households were assessed and 18 FGDs were held. Data collection took place between 2 and 9 June 2014 for camps in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah Governorates, and between 16 and 18 June 2014 for camps in Dahuk Governorate.6 The second round of household-level data collection took place between the 2 and 15 December, integrated into the Multi Sector Needs Assessment (MSNA) conducted by REACH at the request of UNHCR. A total sample of 1,981 households across all formal refugee camps were assessed to provide aid actors with information about the demographic profile, intentions and concerns of Syrian refugees staying in camps across the KRI.