The findings of the Duhok chapter of a regional profiling exercise for out of camp populations were officially presented by UNHCR along with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and various humanitarian and development partners gathered in Duhok.
Preliminary findings were shared and validated with Governorate stakeholders, UN agencies, and NGOs in a workshop held in the Governor’s office in July 2016. The recommendations for the report were subsequently jointly discussed by all parties. The report is a joint effort between all the stakeholders playing a significant role in the humanitarian response to the displacement crisis in the Duhok Governorate.
The study, “Displacement as Challenge and Opportunity”, addresses the need for an in-depth analysis of urban displacement. Its impact on both displaced and host populations in the Governorate is scrutinized with the objective to guide future long-term responses to the urban challenges created by large-scale displacement.
Local authorities have been involved in the exercise from the inception and welcomed the approach as innovative since few available studies take the host population’s perspective into account and the vast majority focus on camp population.
“This is an important study because it’s essential that we have these assessments in the areas of health, education and water and sanitation, along with the composition of the IDP, refugee and host communities. We can now identify needs and provide better services to those communities in the future,” said Ismail Ahmed, Vice Governor of Duhok.
The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I) has seen a 30% population increase since the beginning of the crisis in Syria in 2011, as Syrians started fleeing civil war in their country. This was followed by larger waves in late 2013 and 2014 as Iraqis fled to KR-I, escaping armed conflicts in other governorates such as Anbar and Ninewa. Today, the KR-I hosts over 1 million displaced persons, putting pressure on the region’s limited resources, particularly with respect to the provision of public services, at a time when the regional government is facing severe economic challenges.
In the Duhok Governorate today, 33% of its 1.4-million population is either a refugee or a displaced Iraqi, with 68% of displaced Iraqi’s living out of camp – 39% in the case of Syrian refugee families. In some areas like Sheikhan, Bardarash or Sumel, the population has doubled since 2011, drastically changing the fabric of the community and creating obvious challenges for public services to address population needs in those areas, and social tensions.
“Most of the displaced population live in urban areas, among the host community,” said Tanya Kareem, UNHCR Head of Duhok office. “We are increasingly looking at an area-based approach which entails considering the needs of all communities in the context of our programming, with the view to support the local authorities”
Exploring creative ways of responding to the host communities’ needs, the study covers the impact of recent displacement waves from five angles: urban spaces and social cohesion, employment, households’ financial situation, education and challenges to return home. Recommendations range from easing administrative procedures for displaced populations, to creating bridging programmes for displaced students willing to attend school after a period out of formal education.
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