UNHCR has been present in Iraq since the 1980s protecting refugees and asylum seekers. While Iraq is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol it has hosted, with UNHCR assistance, Palestinian, Iranian, Turkish and Syrian refugees. Following the fall of the previous regime, UNHCR program included assisting returning refugees and IDPs. After the Samara Shrine bombing in February 2006,
UNHCR’s responsibility expanded to assisting internally displaced persons. UNHCR works closely with government partners - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MODM), the Bureau of Displacement and Migration (BDM) and the Ministry of Interior.
UNHCR facilitates the return of people who have decided to repatriate on an individual basis. UNHCR has recorded 544,980 Iraqi refugee and IDP returnees from 2008 till end of 2010. The majority of returnees are from the IDP community, who form around 85% of the returnee population. Of this number, the majority have returned to Baghdad and Diyala, in fact 90% have retuned to these areas. The remaining amounts constitute refugee returnees, who account for around 15% of returnees. UNHCR has registered some 198,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan and countries neighbouring Iraq.
An estimated 1.3 million IDPs are in Iraq. 467,565 IDPs and destitute persons reside in 382 settlements countrywide. The conditions in the settlements or camp-like situations are extremely poor. Consequently, these settlements are in desperate need for emergency assistance, as well as protection and advocacy interventions.