The study, “Displacement as Challenge and Opportunity”, addresses the need for an in-depth analysis of urban displacement and its impact both on internally displaced populations (IDPs), refugees and host populations in the Governorate. The goal of the study was to provide comprehensive data that could help guide future policy and practice for the local authorities as well as humanitarian and development organisations for medium and long-term responses to urban displacement challenges.
The study was carried out by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), specialized government agencies, the Sulaymaniyah Statistics Office, in co-operation with UNHCR, other UN agencies, development agencies and the Geneva-based Joint IDP Profiling Services (JIPS).
“Both the KRG and the international community need to understand the humanitarian situation for the IDPs, refugees and host community particularly now when the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is under enormous pressure financially and economically”, said Serwan Mohamed, President of the Kurdistan Region Statistics Office.
“This study for urban profiling not only sheds more light on the challenges both the KRG and international community face in their attempts to assist but also how the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq feel about the crisis and its outcomes as they see it”.
Sulaymaniyah Governorate, with a total host population of 2.08 million people currently hosts 260,000 displaced people (both internally displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees who began arriving from 2012). The new arrivals have placed an enormous strain on the Governorate at a time when the regional government is facing severe economic challenges.
“This report serves as a testament to the strong collaboration between the Kurdistan Regional Government and UNHCR in trying to support displaced populations”, said Monica Noro, UNHCR Coordinator for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I). “The findings of this report are crucial and will serve as guiding principles when developing and implementing future programmes in Sulaymaniyah.”
Sulaymaniyah hosts one refugee camp and eight camps for displaced Iraqis but 75% of refugees and 88% of IDPs live outside camps. This has created a strong pressure on the local rental market. About 6% of the households in urban areas studied for the report had been evicted in the last 12 months, with about one-third of those reporting they were evicted because they were unable to continue paying rent.
The study revealed that vulnerability has been increasing at household levels in all urban areas in the Governorate. A worrying 64% of households in outer districts with a heavy concentration of displaced people were in debt. Many of the debts owed by refugees and displaced Iraqis were the result of loans taken out to either pay rent or finance domestic needs.
In the education sector, the study said Syrian refugee children presented the greatest challenge for the authorities. An alarming 57% of refugee children aged six to 17 remained outside of the formal education system, posing serious concerns about their future.
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