UNHCR Inter-Agency Operational Update – Iraq, 11 November 2019
Since the start of military action in North East Syria (NES) on 9 October 2019 14,779 individuals have crossed into the KR-I seeking refuge.
1,565 Syrian refugees have obtained clearance to reunite with family members resident in KR-I
Reflecting the dynamic nature of displacement and based upon protection assessments conducted by, a total of 196 new arrivals have voluntarily returned to Syria.
Recent military operations in North East Syria forced thousands of people to flee their homes and to seek safety across the border in neighbouring Iraq. As of 9 November 2019, some 14,779 Syrian refugees have crossed into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Most new arrivals are originally from Ras al Ain and Ain Al Arab, followed by Qamishli and Darbasiyah.
Prior to the influx, there were five informal crossing points through which Syrian refugees entered Iraq, the most used ones being Sehela and Al-Walid. KR-I authorities have confirmed that all five crossing points remain open for families seeking refuge. As of 25 October, however, all individuals entering the KR-I through any of these points are redirected by the KR-I security service, Assayesh, to Sehela transit site where they go through an initial security screening. After this screening, new arrivals are transported to refugee camps based on shelter availability and instructions provided by local authorities.
The number of daily arrivals into the KR-I over the past week has significantly decreased with a new average of around 163 individuals per day. New arrivals are reporting tighter security controls at the border, while others believe that as the situation appears calmer people are cautiously waiting before deciding whether to leave their homes and villages. New arrivals entering the KR-I continue to report paying smugglers around USD 250 USD per person to help them reach the border.
Since the beginning of the emergency, two camps have been designated to host the new arrivals -- Bardarash Refugee Camp, which previously hosted internally displaced Iraqis; and Gawilan Refugee Camp, which already hosts over 7,000 Syrian refugees who fled to Iraq prior to this emergency. As both locations are now reaching full capacity, the authorities in Dohuk Governorate are identifying an additional site to accommodate new arrivals. As of 9 November 2019, out of the total 14,779 Syrian refugees who have entered the KR-I, over 12,000 individuals are hosted in Bardarash Refugee Camp, and over 2,000 new refugees are in Gawilan Refugee Camp.
Reunification of newly arrived refugees with relatives outside these two camps continues. With the support of the Assayesh, 1,565 refugees have so far been cleared to leave the camps to reunite with relatives already residing in the KR-I or to obtain specialized care. At the same time, reflecting the dynamic nature of displacement and following protection assessments conducted by UNHCR, a total of 196 new arrivals have already voluntarily returned to Syria.
Humanitarian actors and local authorities responding to this emergency continue to work closely and collaboratively to meet the needs of the new arrivals. Based upon current assessments of the situation in Syria and the rate of new arrivals, it is possible that the situation may expand beyond the Duhok Governorate. he response and coordination efforts will be integrated under the existing Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) framework.