For specific information on the Bureau’s assistance and admissions programs for Iraqi Refugees.
Where do you work in the region?
Since the Samara Mosque bombing in February, 2006, and the subsequent rise in sectarian violence, more than four million Iraqis have been displaced. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that between 2006 and 2008, approximately two million Iraqis had sought refuge outside of Iraq, most in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, joining the hundreds of thousands Iraqis already living in those countries. In May 2008, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated 2.7 million Iraqis had become internally displaced since 2006, adding to the 1.2 million Iraqis displaced prior to 2003.
As a result of the large-scale outflow from Iraq in 2006 and 2007, the Bureau significantly expanded its protection assistance and U.S. admissions programs in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon to meet the needs of the rapidly growing Iraqi refugee population in those countries. The Bureau has also continued to support UNHCR and international organizations inside Iraq that assist internally displaced Iraqis and conflict victims.
The Bureau has also supported the Committee for the Resolution of Real Property Disputes in its efforts to resolve property claims arising from Saddam-era programs of mass population displacements; to provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Displacement and Migration; and to provide emergency assistance to internally displaced and conflict victims inside Iraq.
What are the major challenges for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region?
Most Iraqis displaced within Iraq have found shelter with host families or rented apartments in areas in which they feel safe. Remarkably few refugee or internally displaced camps have been created. Unfortunately, the longer Iraqis remain displaced, the more destitute they and their host families become. Internally displaced Iraqis have identified the acquisition of food, employment and adequate shelter as their most pressing problems. Some Iraqi governorates, overwhelmed by the number of internally displaced looking to them for assistance, restrict the settlement of internally displaced citizens. The government of Iraq has yet to establish an effective way to compensate or restore property to those Iraqis who had to abandon their homes.
Refugees face many of the same problems as internally displaced Iraqis. The most pressing problem is ensuring that they receive adequate assistance until they can return to Iraq; obtaining the right to work and regularization of their status are also significant concerns. Since the majority of Iraqis are prohibited from working in the host countries, they rely on host country social services or international humanitarian assistance programs for survival. Host countries – particularly Jordan and Syria -- have generously expanded Iraqi refugees' access to basic health and education services; but the growing destitution of Iraqis has increased the burden on those countries. International organizations are also challenged by the need to develop new service delivery models for Iraqi refugees, who are not in easily served camps, but are scattered in urban areas.
How much Bureau funding went to projects in the region in fiscal year 2007 (October 2007 through September 30, 2009)?
The Bureau obligated almost $497 million for refugees, returnees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Near East, of which $287 million was for assistance to Iraqi refugees, internally displaced Iraqis, and conflict victims inside Iraq.
Where are your Refugee Coordinators based? Which countries do they cover?
The Bureau has five Refugee Coordinators in the region to monitor our assistance and U.S. admissions programs and to provide technical assistance to our partners and host governments in responding to the challenges posed by the large number of displaced Iraqis.
In Iraq, the Bureau has a Senior Refugee Coordinator who is responsible for directing and coordinating USG efforts assisting Iraqi refugees, internally displaced and conflict victims. The Senior Coordinator is assisted in Baghdad by an Assistance Refugee Coordinator and an Admissions Refugee Coordinator covering refugees and displaced Iraqi issues inside Iraq. Two Amman-based Refugee Coordinators – one for Assistance and one covering Admissions concerns - who monitor and direct assistance and resettlement services in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
Which international organization (IO) and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners are active in your region?