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Iraq III


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Iraq III


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Iraq


Iraq


Iraq

According to the UNHCR, Iraq is currently hosting nearly 250,000 Syrian refugees. Over 240,000 are densely concentrated in northern, Kurdish-controlled Iraq around the cities of Erbil and Duhok. An overwhelming percentage of all Syrian refugees are from the mainly Kurdish Al-Hasakeh region in Syria, less than 150 miles from Iraq. Both regions are predominantly Kurdish, and share similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Almost 40% of Syrian refugees registered with the UNHCR are living in official camps, with the remaining majority resettled in urban centers. The UNHCR estimates that of those 250,000 refugees, over 80,000 are children. Of that figure, only 31,000 are registered for and enrolled in formal education. 

The refugee camps distributed throughout northern Iraq vary in size, accommodations, and quality of life. While some are located close to city centers and allow refugees to leave for work and school, others are situated in deserts or fields, miles from any city or town. These camps frequently don’t allow refugees freedom of movement. Most refugees are housed in tents donated by a variety of aid organizations like the UNHCR, and some camps are have built temporary housing shelters, or occupy previously-abandoned government facilities. 

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Iraq II


Iraq II


Living conditions inside the camps, however, prove to be some of the best in the region. Basic survival needs are provided almost in their entirety. Most camps have childcare facilities and schools, clean drinking water, daily food distribution, and healthcare facilities. The violence often associated with refugee camps was also not in evidence, and most refugees expressed feelings of safety and security they had not felt since the start of the Syrian conflict. 

The lives of refugees and conditions in the camps, while better than most in the region, are not without room for improvement. Although refugee camps were originally intended to serve as temporary living quarters for the displaced, the camps in Iraq are increasingly becoming permanent homes for their inhabitants. If this permanent settlement continues, these camps will quickly become cities without basic infrastructure. Presently, the refugee camps are not equipped with adequate healthcare resources, educational facilities, or sanitation services.

The most common complaint from refugees in Iraq is the lack of productive outlets for their time and energy. Sitting idle day after day in a camp for years on end without jobs or schooling does not promote human welfare, and despite being both safe and alive, refugees in Iraq frequently express little hope for the future.