The second half of August saw no significant changes in the situation of Syrian refugees in Iraq. UNHCR or partners received no reports about new arrivals; at the same time it was reported that some refugees opted for return.
In Al Qa’im, Anbar Governorate of Iraq, UNHCR continues to have no direct access to the Al Obaidy camp or refugees in urban areas since mid-June due to insecurity. Therefore, the figures of camp and non-camp refugees as well as of spontaneous returns could not be updated. UNHCR’s partners (local NGOs ISHO and UIMS) continued running services for refugees and using core relief items, pre-positioned by UNHCR before June. On 21 August, WFP partner Islamic Relief Worldwide delivered 1,200 WFP food parcels to A Obaidy, bringing much-needed food assistance to the entire camp.
In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq two issues remain of imminent concern at the camp level: delays in the construction of permanent living space for refugees, and poor water and sanitation situation. UNHCR consistently follows up with operational partners on these issues.
The results of Protection monitoring within Erbil governorate indicate a new wave of arrivals of Syrian refugees in the camps. Majority of arrivals are refugees relocating from urban centres in Erbil and Dohuk primarily due to the economic reasons and in particular, a reduced coping capacity to meet living costs vis-àvis the increase of the IDP population. The situation with regard to space in the Syrian camps continues to be tense and UNHCR along with the Erbil Refugee Council (ERC) continues negotiations on expansion of the existing camps to accommodate new arrivals. However, suitable land resources in Erbil governorate are limited and several plots have been allocated to IDP camps.
As the security situation in Gawilan has stabilized, since 24 August 415 families have returned back to the camp. DMC has relocated 86 families from Domiz-1 to Gawilan as part of the decongestion of Domiz camp.
Some additional 200 families staying in irregular areas in Domiz-1 camp are pending relocation to Gawilan camp in the near future. 500 Syrian families staying in shelters in irregular areas in Domiz-1 camp have been relocated to Domiz-2 camp.
In August, UNHCR submitted 26 cases (100 individuals) to Sweden, representing the team’s most productive month yet in terms of submissions to resettlement countries. It is intended that all submitted (112 total) will depart to Sweden in 2014. “UK funding helps boosts skills and self-reliance of Syrian refugees in Iraq” – see story on p. 9.