Regional Response Plan for Iraqi Refugees 2011
The 2011 Regional Response Plan for Iraqi Refugees builds on the 2010 process, and aims to provide a strategic framework for responding to the immediate needs of Iraqi refugees in twelve countries: Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. It represents the efforts made by all agencies to agree about common objectives, enhance coordination and ensure complementarity in responding to the needs of Iraqi refugees in the region. The RRP also aims to look at the future and focus the efforts of the humanitarian community on paving the way for durable solutions for Iraqis displaced in the region. The RRP is coordinated by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Across the region, host countries continue to offer their hospitality and protection to Iraqi refugees. New refugees continue to arrive, and new registrations, including of Iraqis who had not approached UNHCR’s offices until now, take place every month, especially in the three countries hosting the largest numbers of Iraqis: Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. With the situation in Iraq still precarious and the political future of the country uncertain, the humanitarian community does not expect the number of refugees to decrease significantly in 2011. Indeed, the number of families that have approached humanitarian agencies for assistance to return to Iraq remains extremely low.
As local integration is not possible for most, 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 cases for resettlement in the past four years. However, with limited places and overwhelming needs, resettlement remains an exception rather than the norm. It is now more vital than ever for the humanitarian community to work with host countries and donor government and ensure that the asylum space is preserved, and basic needs responded to.
In 2011, the humanitarian community will continue to provide assistance and protection to displaced Iraqis, while focusing on finding durable solutions for all. A first step will be to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the refugee populations, and identify those who will not return or benefit from resettlement, and are likely to remain in exile over the mid-term. Working with host governments, donors, national frameworks and development agencies, solutions will be sought to ensure continued protection and enhance self-reliance amongst refugee communities.
As the remaining Iraqi refugees population is increasingly a protracted one, needs are growing and vulnerabilities heightened. Savings are now depleted, and regional trends can be observed in the areas of health, nutrition and education. The humanitarian community continues to offer primary and secondary healthcare, but lack of funding has severely impaired its ability to provide tertiary healthcare, when the Iraqi refugee population shows disproportionate numbers of chronic and grave diseases. Despite the assistance provided by humanitarian actors, many refugees compromise both the quantity and quality of their nutrition as a financial coping mechanism, creating more health-related issues. Finally, in some instances, children drop-out of school to support their families, as they are more likely to find work than their parents.
2011 will be the year of consolidation for many humanitarian agencies throughout the region. With funding dwindling and less international interest in resettlement, the humanitarian community will strive to meet the needs, while relying increasingly on national capacities and existing framework. Capacity-building of local institutions will ensure greater efficiency and sustainability. International donor support remains key however to target the needs of the most vulnerable, and show solidarity with host countries and population. Not only do Iraqis depend on the humanitarian community to address their basic needs, the maintenance of protection space is also directly linked to the support the international community can provide.