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There has been a large influx of Syrian refugees into the Kurdish region of Iraq the last week. New resources are pivotal in order to respond to the new wave of refugees. Danish Refugee Council is present and working hard to keep up with the newcomers.
Since August 15th, over 40,000 Syrians have crossed into northern Iraq. The new wave of displacement comes in the wake of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s decision to reopen its border with Syria after it had been closed for several months. The latest arrivals bring the current number of Syrian refugees in Iraq to approximately 192,000.
“Two-thirds of Syrians, who recently fled from Aleppo and Hassakeh, are women, children and elderly,” says Becky Cardy, Northern Area Manager of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in Iraq.
The UNHCR, with support from local authorities have organised hosting sites in Erbil and Sulemaniyah governorates, where some of the refugees are being assisted. With limited space to expand or create additional shelter, there are more than 16,000 refugees who are residing outside the temporary sites. The construction of two new camps in Erbil and Sulemaniyah by UNHCR and humanitarian stakeholders is ongoing.
“The refugee number is swelling, the needs are increasing, and resources are not. There is a need to scale up the humanitarian operation, ensure coordination and act fast in order to avert a deteriorating situation,“ says Ben Nixon, Head of Programme of DRC in Iraq.
Sanitation, health services, shelter, food and water are the most urgent needs, which relief workers have been working frantically to address. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is in the inception phase of two projects. One of the projects, funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), will focus on providing emergency cash assistance to refugees residing in host communities. This will be complemented by protection outreach to identify the most vulnerable Syrians and refer them to necessary assistance. The second project, with funding from UNHCR, aims at providing durable and sustainable livelihoods assistance for the refugees. The project will provide opportunities for skills development and employment through apprenticeships and provide support for small-scale business activities. In total, this project will assist 500 refugee families in both Erbil and Dohuk.
DRC has also been supporting local government to respond to the crisis by building the capacity and technical skills of Governorate Emergency Cells (GECs). DRC has been collaborating with GEC’s since 2007 providing technical training to develop contingency plans, mitigation measures and in sectors such as water and sanitation. DRC is seeking to scale its support of GECs to best manage the response.