As of 15 July 2014, according to the latest estimated from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 217,000 Syrian refugees reside in Iraq, most of whom (208,000) have settled in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Around 92,000 of these refugees in the KRI currently reside in nine refugee camps (two of which were set up as transit sites), while the remaining 116,000 have settled among the host community across the KRI.1
REACH Initiative (REACH) has been actively supporting information management efforts undertaken by humanitarian actors in Iraq since November 2012 and was requested by UNHCR to support the Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) of UNHCR and the World Food Program (WFP) by conducting a Multi-Section Needs Assessment (MSNA), while at the same time establishing a multi-sectorial dataset on the profile, conditions and needs of camp-based Syrian refugees. Data collection took place alongside the JAM from 6 May to 22 May 2014, with training and pilots being conducted in Erbil and Duhok in the week before data collection started, to cover all nine camps across the three governorates.2 In total, 804 households were assessed.
The MSNA of Syrian refugees in camps aimed to identify priority needs within and among sectors and to identify gaps in relief assistance provided to meet these needs. Because this MSNA was developed with a view to supporting the JAM, a large section of it was focused on the food security situation and evaluating the assistance provided by WFP. A crucial part of this evaluation was a comparison of two distinct assistance schemes employed by WFP, one based on food parcel distribution and one based on vouchers, thus comparing the food security situation in camps with either of these schemes in place. The report presents sector specific assessment findings on education, health, food, livelihoods, energy/fuel and water in each of the refugee camps in the KRI, followed by recommendations to support the upcoming round of strategic planning for the next 6-12 months. Key findings further detailed in the report include:
Vulnerable households: 24% of the female heads of household reported they were widowed. 4% of households had an elderly (≥60) head of households. 99% of households in Akre reported not having a member with a residency card, 88% in Arbat Transit and 84% in Gawilan. 5% of households reported not being able to afford basic needs in the 30 days preceding the assessment. All of these groups reported a significantly lower average monthly income.
Education: Only 51% of Syrian refugee children aged 4-17 attended school across all camps in KRI. The overall attendance rate in refugee camps across KRI among children age 6-14 was found to be 78%. The attendance rate among girls age 6-11 (97%) was slightly higher than among boys (93%); the same patter could be observed among girls age 12-14 (46%) compared to boys (43%). Just 5% of boys age 15-17 was reported to attend school. The main cited reasons for non-attendance at any age level were the inavailability of a school in the camp at the right level (46%) and placement of the child in a level below its age group (35%).
Health: 24% camp-based Syrian refugee of households across KRI reported that one or more members of the household suffered from illness in the two weeks preceding the assessment, with the highest incidence of illness reported in Domiz II (36%) and Domiz (26%). The most common ailments were respiratory tract infection and diarrhoea, with significant variation between camps. About half of all households reported having required health assistance at one point since arriving in the KRI, out which 24% reported having experienced difficulties accessing care, notably due to lack of availability of treatment at the public health clinic (41%), followed by insufficient funds to purchase medicine at the pharmacy (33%). Over half of all children under four years old were exclusively breastfed for more than six month, and 24% were breastfed exclusively for two months or less.
Food: Most Syrian refugee households staying in camps in the KRI showed an acceptable Food Consumption Score, averaging between 76 (Basirma) and 89 (Domiz) per camp, with just 3% of households who received the WFP food parcel below the acceptable threshold of 42. Households in Domiz and Domiz II, under the WFP food voucher scheme, had a higher intake of meat, eggs and milk products than their counterparts receiving the WFP food parcel, and no households in these two camps fell below the threshold of 42. 6% of households across KRI reported lacking food in the seven days prior to the survey, with the highest proportion found in Kawergosk (13%), Gawilan (11%) and Basirma (10%). 68% of households report selling all or some of the contents of the distributed food parcels. Rice (66% of the amount received is sold) is the most sold item, followed by pasta (56%), bulgur (56%) and lentils (52%). The food voucher system has had a resoundingly positive impact on the food security situation of refugees in the camps where it has been implemented.
Livelihoods: 12% of Syrian households staying in refugees camps in the KRI reported having no source of income in the 30 days preceding the assessment, with the highest proportion without an income found in Gawilan (21%). 5% of households across KRI were unable to meet their basic needs, with significant variation across camps. 15% of households in Gawilan, Basirma and Kawergosk were unable to meet their basic needs. The average household income per working household was 485,000 IQD, with the lowest average income reported in Gawilan (305,000 IQD) and Basirma (360,000 IQD). The main type of expenditure was food (46%) and the main non-food types of expenditure were transportation, communication, tobacco and debt repayment. 52% of households reported to have borrowed money since their arrival, owing an average debt per household of 675,000 IQD. Household items and shelter improvement were most commonly reported as priority needs. Only 6% of households across all camps reported having received vocational training since arriving in the KRI.
Energy/Fuel: Almost all (99.7%) Syrian refugee households across the KRI reported having sufficient fuel for their daily cooking needs. The majority of households reported using gas bottles as fuel for cooking with exception of Gawilan, where 59% of households reported using kerosene. 63% of households in Qushtapa, 50% in Kawergosk, 29% in Arbat Transit and 14% in Darashakran reported selling all or part of the distributed kerosene.
Water: A large majority (78%) of Syrian refugee households across camps in the KRI reported having sufficient drinking water, with significant variation across camps. Only 37% of households in Qushtapa reported having enough, followed by 52% in Kawergosk and 59% in Akre. 67% of households reported having sufficient water for other purposes, with similar variation across camps. Only 25% of households in Qushtapa reported having enough water for purposes other than drinking.