Thursday, 05 July 2018 15:09

Director of UNHCR MENA Bureau pledges UNHCR’s continuing support to displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees

Erbil, Iraq - 05 July 2018: The battle for Mosul ended one year ago this month, but the legacy of conflict continues to overshadow Iraq. The events that unfolded during the years of extremist control and the military campaign to remove them left a dramatic imprint. Despite promising signs of early recovery, the scars left during these years still lie heavily across the country.

For Iraq to move past this legacy, people must be able to return to their homes safely and sustainably. We must remember that return is not just going back to a house, it is going back to a community. Rebuilding communities goes far beyond bricks and mortar.

Some 3.9 million Iraqis have already returned, often in difficult circumstances. UNHCR supports communities in the early stages of recovery with community-based projects that encourage social cohesion and help to rebuild trust and self-sufficiency.

But for the 2 million Iraqis still in displacement, return must happen. This means obstacles to return must be removed and conditions conducive to return must be created. The extent of the devastation in places like West Mosul cannot be underestimated.

People continue to cross the border from Syria into Iraq at the rate of 700 new arrivals each month. After seven years, the conflict shows no sign of abating. Even now the United Nations received new reports of escalating hostilities in southern Syria, endangering three-quarters of a million people. So far 320,000 people have already been displaced, in just a matter of days. Syrian refugees and the communities that host them will continue to need support for some time to come.

For the 250,000 Syrian refugees sheltering in Iraq, return is not a sustainable option at present. The Kurdistan Region of Iraq houses 97 per cent of the Syrian refugees in Iraq, generously received by the people and the Kurdistan Regional Government. For a country barely out of the shadow of conflict and extremism, the benevolence of Iraqis and Kurds towards their Syrian neighbours is truly humbling. UNHCR is committed to supporting Syrian refugees and the communities that host them in Iraq and across the MENA region for as long as necessary.

The situation in Iraq is complex. We need to be nimble and creative in our response in order to meet the needs of vulnerable Iraqis and Syrian refugees across an ever-broadening spectrum. 2018-2019 must be a year of return. Iraq needs to leave behind the legacy of 25 years of displacement and move towards normalization. I would like to take this opportunity to reinforce UNHCR’s firm commitment to stand with the people of Iraq and the KR-I for as long as it takes.

For more information contact:
Kate Pond
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+964 780 920 7286 (Baghdad)

Mustafa Aldalawi
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+964 7801958468 (Baghdad)

Rasheed H Rasheed
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+964 7507130014 (Dohuk)

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNHCR

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