Syrian refugees in Kurdistan Region camps facing ‘alarming levels of food insecurity’: UN agencies
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Syrian families living in camps in the Kurdistan Region face alarming levels of food insecurity, according to data from the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
Iraq hosts almost 260,000 Syrian refugees, the vast majority of whom reside in the Kurdistan Region.
"This includes 95,745 people who live in camps – 72,000 of whom receive life-saving food and cash assistance from WFP, while UNHCR provides a range of services, including, among others, legal support, registration services, cash assistance, and education support," the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNHCR said in a press release on Tuesday.
"86 percent of in-camp refugees remain food insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity following a string of socio-economic shocks," the UN agencies said.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment in 2020 and the consequent devaluation of the Iraqi dinar are still being felt while price rises caused by the war in Ukraine continue to reduce people's access to basic food.
The UN agencies said that urgent additional funding is needed to continue assisting 72,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees, the majority of whom reside in camps in the Kurdistan Region.
"WFP requires US$ 10.1 million to continue uninterrupted monthly food and cash assistance," the agencies said. "Receiving this is vital as 86 percent of people in camps are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity – without the requisite funds tens of thousands of people will suffer ever more severe levels of food insecurity."
The Kurdistan Region continues to host the largest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in Iraq, the Quarterly Humanitarian Bulletin of the Kurdistan Regional Government in the US said in January.
The Iraqi government shut down all the IDP camps to force their populations to return to their areas.
However, the KRG has refused to close down the camps and continues to assist IDPs and Syrian refugees residing on its soil in partnership with international aid groups.
"According to the Kurdistan Regional Government Joint Crisis Coordination Center's (KRG-JCC) latest data, 926,018 displaced people are registered with the KRG, of whom 664,237 are IDPs and 261,781 are refugees," the bulletin said.
"Out of the refugees, 241,937 are from Syrian Kurdistan, 8,479 from Kurdistan of Turkey, 10,548 from Kurdistan of Iran, 736 are Palestinian, and 81 are from elsewhere."
According to the JCC data, 30 percent of refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) live within the 36 camps. The remaining 70 percent live outside camps. Forty-one percent of the displaced population lives in Erbil, 40 percent in Duhok, and the remaining 19 percent in Sulaimani.