Mid-Year Review of the Regional Response Plan for Iraqi Refugees 2010
The 2010 Regional Response Plan (RRP) for Iraqi Refugees aims to provide a strategic framework for responding to the immediate needs of Iraqi refugees in 12 countries: Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Iran and the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
The RRP represents the efforts of all agencies to agree on common objectives, enhance coordination and ensure complementarity in responding to the needs of Iraqi refugees in the region. The RRP also looks at the future and focus the humanitarian community’s efforts on paving the way for durable solutions for Iraqis displaced in the region. The RRP is led and coordinated by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Across the region, host countries continue offering their hospitality and protection to Iraqi refugees. New refugees continue to arrive. New registrations, including of Iraqis who had not previously approached UNHCR’s offices, take place every month, especially in the three countries hosting the largest numbers of Iraqis (Syria, Jordan and Lebanon). With the security situation in Iraq still precarious and the country’s political future uncertain, the humanitarian community does not expect the number of refugees to reduce significantly in the remainder of 2010. Indeed, the number of families who have approached humanitarian agencies for assistance to return to Iraq remains extremely low.
Local integration is not possible for the vast majority of Iraqi refugees. Therefore, resettlement to third countries remains for now the most likely durable solution for a large number of Iraqi refugees in the region. The generosity of resettlement countries has allowed UNHCR to submit over 100,000 people for resettlement since 2007. However, with limited places and overwhelming needs, resettlement remains the exception rather than the norm. It is more vital than ever for the humanitarian community to continue working with host countries and donor governments to ensure that the precious asylum space is preserved and basic needs are met.
As the Iraqi refugee situation takes on the characteristics of a protracted crisis, the needs of the most vulnerable are becoming increasingly desperate. Savings are now depleted and disturbing regional trends are observed in health, nutrition and education. The humanitarian community continues to offer primary and secondary health care, but a lack of funding has severely impaired its ability to provide tertiary health care at a time when the Iraqi refugee population shows disproportionate prevalence of chronic and grave diseases. Despite humanitarian actors’ assistance, many refugees compromise the quantity and quality of their nutrition as a financial coping mechanism, creating more health-related issues. In some instances, children drop out of school to support their families, as they are more likely to find work than their parents.
At the time of preparing this Mid-Year Review (MYR), many humanitarian agencies operating in the Iraq situation have not received any funding against the RRP. UNHCR has the largest budget requirements, but its programmes for the Iraq operation are only 5% funded in terms of grants earmarked directly to these country programmes. As the humanitarian community in the region continues working together to align strategies, analyse trends and pull resources together, support from the host countries and the international community is more essential than ever.