Iraqi refugees in the middle east
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Iraqi refugees in the Middle East. Syria, Jordan and Lebanon April 2008. Situation in Iraq. Population: 25 mill. Religion: 97% Islam and 3% other (mainly Christians and Jews). Islam: 60% Shiite, 20% Sunni Arabs and 20% Sunni Kurds (in the North). Baghdad 60% Shiite

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Iraqi refugees in the Middle East

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Iraqi refugees in the middle east

Iraqi refugees in the Middle East

Syria, Jordan and Lebanon

April 2008


Situation in iraq

Situation in Iraq

  • Population: 25 mill.

  • Religion: 97% Islam and 3% other (mainly Christians and Jews).

  • Islam: 60% Shiite, 20% Sunni Arabs and 20% Sunni Kurds (in the North).


Iraqi refugees in the middle east

Baghdad

60% Shiite

40% Sunni Arabs.


Development march 2003 april 2008

Development March 2003- April 2008

  • March 2003: Start of the second Gulf war.

  • May 2003: Pres. Bush “Mission accomplished”.

  • August 2003: UN headquarter bombed, withdrawal.

  • December 2003: Saddam captured

  • 2003-2005:

    • Some initial optimism after the fall of Saddam lead to the return of 300.000 Iraqis.

    • But also widespread sectarian violence, guerilla warfare, suicide attacks, chaos, looting.

  • February 2006: The bombing of the Golden Shiite mosque in Samarra lead to a sharp upturn in sectarian violence.


Refugees inside iraq

Refugees inside Iraq

  • 2.7 mill internally displaced (IDPs)

    • 2003-2006: 1.2 mill.

    • 2006-2007: 1.5 mill.

  • 2008: Displacement continues in a lower pace.

  • Mainly from Baghdad (69%) and Diyala (18%)

  • Mainly (82%) women and children

  • Mainly (85%) displaced in the Southern or Central Iraq.

  • In neighborhood or district controlled by their sect.

  • Many IDPs live in rented houses/apartments (59%), collective settlements (22%), with host family (18%), or in tents (1%).

  • More than 1 mill is in need of adequate shelter and food.

  • Around 300.000 have no access to clean water.

  • In 2007 UNHCR distributed 140.000 blankets, 50.000 mattresses, 20.000 stoves, 15.000 lanterns, 14.000 plastic sheets, 6.000 tents etc.

  • 2 international staff + 20 national staff in 7 locations provide basic assistance.


Refugees outside iraq

Refugees outside Iraq

  • 2.2 mill refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, and Iran.

  • Syria (1.5 mill) and Jordan (500.000) carry most of the burden.

  • Many Sunni Arabs and ethnic minorities

  • Western countries receive a small portion.


Refugees basic needs

Refugees: basic needs?

  • Non-refoulement

  • Physical safety

  • Residence and work permit

  • Legal protection (detention etc)

  • House, food and water

  • Social assistance (incl. school)

  • Health services


Permanent solutions

Permanent solutions

  • Repatriation (to home country)?

    • Voluntary repatriation: Some return (about 800-900 pr day)

    • Economic reasons, check or sell property (“Go and see” visits)

    • Follow up with family members

    • To be released from detention in Lebanon or other countries

    • No minority return

  • Local integration (in host country)?

  • Resettlement (in a third country)?


  • Protection climate in syria jordan and lebanon

    Protection “climate” in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon

    • Human rights record in the Middle east.

    • Syria, Jordan and Lebanon not ratified 1951 Refugee convention (144 states signed)

    • No asylum system

    • Illegal or “tolerated” stay

    • Few local NGOs dealing with human rights (mainly humanitarian assistance).

    • Political tension and instability (Lebanon)

    • Local population, rising prices (Syria).


    The role of unhcr

    The Role of UNHCR

    • Protection and assistance to refugees

    • Policy of non-return (prima facie refugee status) for all Iraqis from Central and Southern Iraq

    • Registration

      • Important first step: to be of concern to UNHCR

      • Interview, collect personal information, assess specific needs and further action.

  • Refugee Status Determination

    • Interview, written assessment, criteria for refugee status in art. 1 A of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

  • Resettlement: Who do we look for?


  • Resettlement

    Resettlement

    Traditional criteria:

    • Vulnerable groups (Women-at-risk, children-at-risk, elderly, medical needs, victims of torture)

    • Legal and Physical Protection needs (risk of detention, refoulement)

    • UNHCR refer 20.000 Iraqi refugees pr year, mainly to US, Canada, UK, Australia, Den/Swe/Nor.

    • In 2008: 25.000

    • So far in 2008: 5000 Iraqis have been submitted and 1.150 have departed.


    Iraqi refugees in the middle east

    • Legal protection

      • Challenge detention or deportation orders in court.

  • Social assistance

    • Community centers

    • Outreach – mobile teams

    • Social counseling

    • Home visits

    • Public and private school enrollment for children

    • Private school fees, books, uniforms etc.

    • Vocational training

  • Medical assistance


  • Mixed refugee population

    Mixed refugee population

    • Urban refugee population (live in Damascus, Amman, Beirut or other cities)

    • Vulnerable groups (women, children, elderly)

    • Excludable groups (criminals)

    • Different needs and rights

    • Dealing with expectations from refugees?

    .


    Syria

    Syria

    • Population: 19 mill.

    • 90% Muslim and 10% Christian

    • Muslim: 74% Sunni and 16% other Muslim sects (Alawis and Druze)

    • Syria is a republic under the secular and authoritarian regime of President Bashar al-Asad.


    Iraqi refugees in the middle east

    • 1.5 mill refugees

    • 30.000-60.000 each month in 2006-2007

    • 165.000 registered with UNHCR

    • Average 2.500 refugees registered pr. week.

    • 2 months waiting period for registration (urgent cases 1 week)

    • Growing numbers, because of increased support from UNHCR.

    • Also growing numbers outside Damascus. (Aleppo and Homs).

    • 53% Sunni, 22% Shiite and 17% Christian

    • Male 52%/Female 48%

    • Female principle applicant 22%


    Iraqi refugees in the middle east

    • 33% of refugees self-supported for 3 months or less.

    • 20% of refugees depend on support from family abroad

    • UNHCR: 4.000 ATM cards to the most vulnerable families (18.000 persons) with 100-200 USD pr month. First interviewed by Community Service staff. Will cost 1.5 mill pr. month.

    • 1 mill USD distributed to vulnerable women.

    • 60.000 refugees received food assistance in Damascus from UNCHR and WFP.

      Package: Sugar, wheat, macaroni, tomato paste, black tea and cooking oil.

    • UNHCR will also distribute non-food items: mattresses, blankets and bed-sheets. Planned for 150.000.


    Iraqi refugees in damascus

    Iraqi refugees in Damascus


    Health situation

    Health situation

    • 20% serious medial condition

    • Survey December 2007:

      • 89% depressed and 82% anxious,

      • all experienced at least one traumatic event (witnessed shooting, affected by shelling or rocket attacks, or harassment by militia.

      • 75% knew someone close who had been killed.

    • 16% tortured (mainly by militia), 61% beaten with fists or objects.

    • In 2007, UNHCR supported 200.000 health interventions (compared to only 15.000 in 2006)

    • UNHCR supported 7 clinics for Iraqi refugees in Damascus and 4 in other parts of Syria – Red Cross and Red Crescent.

    • UNHCR provided treatment for 500 cancer patients (one hospital, cost 1 mill USD, surgery for 150 refugees).


    Children

    Children

    • Child at risk 5%

    • 40% drop-out among school children

    • 10% of children are working.

    • UNHCR funded rehabilitation of 100 schools/educational facilities, provide textbooks and uniforms to Iraqi schoolchildren.

    • UNHCR supports access to higher education for 300 Iraqi students through scholarship.

    • In 2008, UNHCR supports the building of 8 new schools and construction of one floor in a new hospital in Damascus, and expanded capacity in other hospitals.

    • Syria allows Iraqi children: 50.000 enrolled by February 2008.


    Women

    Women

    • 5% Woman at risk

    • 400 Sexual and Gender based violence (SGBV) cases identified since February 2007.

    • Prostitution in Damascus

    • UNHCR support 50 Iraqi women in prison and girls (12-17 years old) in Juvenile centers, mainly because of prostitution.

    • UNHCR support safe houses in Damascus. In February 2008 a large new safe house opened to accommodate 120 women.


    Palestinian refugees in no mans land

    Palestinian refugeesin “No mans land”

    • Palestinians fled from Palestine to Iraq in 1948, supported by Saddam Hussein to provoke Israel.

    • After his fall there were 35.000 Palestinians in Iraq. They where perceived to be supporting Saddam and harassed by militia. Today, only 15.000 left.

    • 2.700 Palestinian refugees from Iraq stranded in two camps (Al Waleed and Al Tanf) on the Iraqi side of the border to Syria (“No mans land”)

    • Fear of persecution in Baghdad.

    • Syria has restricted visa requirements for Palestinians.

    • Dessert, high temperatures (60 degrees in the summer) and sandstorms


    Iraqi refugees in the middle east

    • Hard conditions, no proper water or sanitation, scorpions and snakes.

    • Armed local men demanded part of supplies, threatened international agencies and blocked aid.

    • Worried about health situation.12 refugees died in last 14 months.

    • 400 km to nearest proper health facility in Iraq. No ambulance, only taxi.

    • UNHCR (through implementing partners) provide daily food rations, non-food items and power supply, school (340 students), health care services and medical evacuation, Red Cross provide water and sanitation.

    • Resettlement: In 2006, Canada accepted 64 persons. In 2007, Brazil received 107. In 2008, Chile will receive 117 persons. Sudan has offered to take 2000 persons.


    Jordan

    Jordan

    • Population: 6 mill.

    • 93% Sunni Muslims and 6% Christians.

    • Constitutional monarchy ruled by King Abdullah Hussein and supported by US and EU.

    • 500.000 Iraqi refugees

    • Stricter visa-requirements in February 2008. Apply in Iraq, not on the border.

    • 52.000 Registered with UNHCR

    • 3 days registration waiting period


    Iraqi refugees in the middle east

    • Sunni 68%, Shiite 17% and Christians 12%

    • Male 55% and Female 45%

    • Urban refugee population: Come from Baghdad and live in Amman.

    • 40% receive financial support from Iraq

    • 22% employed

    • 20% female headed households and often among the poorest.

    • UNHCR: 2000 families food monthly and 150 persons hot meal daily.

    • UNHCR: 7.700 persons received financial assistance in 2007.


    Iraqi refugees in the middle east

    • Woman at risk 7%

    • Child at risk 5%

    • 15% serious health problems

    • UNHCR: 40.000 health interventions in 2007.

    • 95% said they wished to return if security improved.

    • Only 20% concrete plans to emigrate to third country.

    • Mainly poor refugees want to emigrate

    • Refugees with high level of resources (economically and education) want to return.


    Lebanon

    Lebanon

    • Population: 3.8 mill

    • 35% Shiite, 25% Sunni, 25% Christian Maronites

    • Lebanon is a parliamentary republic in which the president is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the leader of the Parliament is a Shiite Muslim.

    • Political instability, division between ethnic and religious groups, fear of civil war.


    Iraqi refugees in the middle east

    • 50.000 Iraqi refugees

    • 10.000 Registered with UNHCR

    • Registration waiting period: 4-5 days.

    • Shiite 57%, Sunni 30% and Christians 12%

    • Shiite live in Shiite areas, Sunni in Sunni areas and Christians in Christian areas.

    • Male 70% and Female 30%

    • 6% female principle applicant

    • Women at risk 1.5%

    • Child at risk 2.5%

    • 10% important health problems

    • UNHCR supported 2.800 health interventions and 2.900 psychological intervention

    • UNHCR opened a new rehabilitation center for victims of torture and violence in Dec 2007.

    • More than 50% never feel safe in Lebanon.

    • 580 in detention because of illegal entry or stay (or overstayed their visa) and 50% detained beyond the period of their original sentence.

    • Detention: will be released if return “voluntary” to Iraq.

    • Major break through in February 2008: Recognize Iraqi refugees. Release from detention. Residence and work permit.


    Conclusions

    Conclusions

    • Flee from violence (traumatic events). Want to return if safe.

    • Neighboring countries carry most of the burden.

    • Seek their ethnic group in country of asylum

    • Women & children left behind. Single men move on (Lebanon).

    • Mixed refugee population – different background, different needs, different status.

    • Targeted response (Syria: ATM cards to urban refugee population)


    Iraqi refugees in the middle east

    • Deal with expectations from refugees (assistance and resettlement).

    • Local integration and repatriation. Resettlement only for a small minority.

    • Difficult protection “climate” (restricted access, human rights violations, detention)

    • Realistic approach

      • Need to work with local governments and local population – protection principles vs. protection space?

      • Resources and donor support

      • Resettlement countries.

  • Work for UNHCR

    • the need for young, motivated staff

    • Work is demanding, but also gratifying!


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