Blog - ECHO in the field

Impressions from Domiz camp – Syrian refugees in Iraq

A mother and her children found shelter in the tented site while waiting for registration and the chance to move to one of the one-room houses Photo © EU - ECHO/ M. Chatziantoniou

A mother and her children found shelter in the tented site while waiting for registration and the chance to move to one of the one-room houses Photo © EU - ECHO/ M. Chatziantoniou

Amman, 20/09/2012 – “The city of Dohuk in the Kurdish Region of Iraq is encircled by impressive mountains. A good 20 kilometres southeast of the town  and some 60 kilometres from the border, the authorities set up Domiz camp back in April, in order to accommodate Syrian refugees of Kurdish origin” explains Marilena Chatziantoniou, the ECHO expert just back from a 10-day monitoring mission. “The camp is divided into a transit area, with tents where people stay while waiting for registration by UNHCR, and a large section with more permanent housing. Once registered, they move from the tents into a small one-room house with toilet and kitchen area. Registration also gives them access to basic services as well as food, water and  some household items like kitchen sets, mattresses and blankets” she continues her description.

The Kurdish authorities are keeping the borders open for Syrians of Kurdish origin. So far, over 21,000 people have crossed. Over 7,000 of them now live in Domiz camp.

Like other neighbouring countries, Iraq has witnessed a rapidly increasing influx of refugees in the past weeks. “In recent days some 500 people were crossing daily into Dohuk governorate’ says Marilena Chatziantoniou . “The authorities, together with UNHCR, have responded quickly – but because of the sudden massive arrival of refugees, tents are now mushrooming across the camp. At the same time, the part of Domiz camp with the one-room houses seems to be rapidly growing into a small slum city. People are building extensions to the shelters provided. They are connected to the public electricity network and receive water by trucks. Markets are being set up and businesses are being launched”. The Kurdish authorities are granting 6-month renewable resident permits to the refugees. They can therefore leave the camp as they wish and work.  However, jobs are becoming scarce.

Far fewer Syrians of Arab origin have managed to cross into Iraq, as the border point into central Iraq was open only for three weeks in July and August. During these 25 days, some 4,500 refugees arrived. Most of them are now living in a recently set up camp, some are living among the communities and in public buildings such as schools. The border has been reopened on 18 September.

“So far the authorities have responded swiftly and appropriately to the situation, but if refugees keep arriving, resources will become scarce. ECHO will therefore continue to closely monitor the situation” concludes Marilena Chatziantoniou.

By Heinke Veit, 
Regional Information Officer, Amman, Jordan

Related information

Aid in action: Syria | Iraq

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