Palestinians from Iraq endure floods at border camps
Heavy rain on the night of 28 October resulted in flooding at the two camps for Palestinians from Iraq stranded at the Syrian-Iraqi borders, causing tents to be inundated, sewage systems to overflow, the electricity supply to fail and the makeshift camp mosque to catch on fire after an electrical short cut.
While UNHCR was able to send new tents, mattresses, plastic sheeting and blankets to Al Tanf on the next day, it is estimated that the tents of over 100 families were destroyed in Al Walid on the Iraqi side of the border, where assistance always takes longer to arrive.
Arrival of Iraqi Refugees from Mosul
Following reports that thousands of Iraqi Christians had fled their homes in Mosul in October to escape violence and threats and that several hundreds had come to Syria, UNHCR has been closely monitoring the situation in order to ensure these refugees are given proper assistance upon arrival in Syria.
So far, UNHCR has registered or is in the process of registering around 45 families from Mosul (20 in Aleppo and the rest in Damascus) and has begun assessing them for emergency grants and food assistance.
UNHCR does not at this time promote voluntary repatriation to Iraq as it considers that the basic requirements for sustainable, large-scale return of Iraqi refugees in conditions of safety and dignity are not yet in place. However, UNHCR does recognize that individual families are currently repatriating and consequently has begun assisting families who express a free and informed decision to return, after individual counselling.
During October 68 families received financial assistance to return to Iraq following counselling. Most of the families counselled until now have opted to return using the free flights organised by the Government of Iraq. The assistance provided by UNHCR amounts to US$100 per adult and US$50 per child (up to a maximum of US$500 per family).
The Iraq Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) for 2009
The Syrian part of the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) for 2009, a component of the Iraq CAP for 2009 is in the process of being finalised in cooperation between UN Agencies (UNRWA, UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, IOM, ILO, UNDP, WFP) and NGOs in Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society and representatives of the Syrian Government. The main objective of this CAP is to present a consolidated and coordinated humanitarian response to the needs of Iraqi refugees in Syria.
The Appeal comprises 54 projects covering:
- Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV)
- Mental Health and Psychosocial Support
- Livelihoods and Skills Development
- Palestinians from Iraq
The appeal for Syria currently amounts to US$217 million, of which US$136.4 million requested for UNHCR Syria (final figures are subject to confirmation by appealing agencies).
This first joint effort to consolidate the humanitarian response of UN agencies, NGOs and Government of Syria to the needs of Iraqi refugees in Syria has highlighted the necessity to continue direct support to Iraqi refugees. Given the refugees' urban environment, new strategies have been devised to reach them thanks to training and collaboration with Iraqi refugees. Support to the Syrian ministries of health and education will continue as well as UNHCR's resettlement programme for a limited but increasing number of vulnerable refugees.
The consolidated appeal document, combining the response plans of Iraq and all Iraqi refugee hosting countries (including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt) was reviewed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and by head offices of the appealing agencies and was launched on 19 November 2008 by OCHA in Geneva. A second launch by the High Commissioner will take place on 24 November in Abu Dhabi.