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With 245,000 Syrian Refugees, Northern Iraq Isn’t Prepared for More

With 245,000 Syrian Refugees, Northern Iraq Isn’t Prepared for More

10 OCTOBER 2019 | The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria will strain the already dire situation for displaced people in the region. There is an urgent need to support women survivors and refugees

As an organisation serving Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis in northern Iraq, Women for Women International is deeply concerned about increased conflict in the region, following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Civilians have already died, and more civilians’ lives are at risk with many also facing the threat of further displacement.

The Syrian people have suffered enough, and Iraq is already sheltering over a million refugees and displaced people. 245,000 of those refugees fled Syria into northern Iraq – and the sudden change in policy threatens an escalation in conflict that could lead to hundreds of thousands more people driven from their homes into displacement. 

Women for Women International’s Country Director in Iraq, Aram Shakerm, says:  

“With winter approaching, risks to displaced families – and especially women – will be extremely high. Existing communities in northern Iraq have been supporting refugees of the conflict, but with 245,000 current refugees just here in northern Iraq, the host community is reaching its limit. The resources and ability to support more people is depleting.”

Destabilisation in Syria creates a security risk, as communities along the border shoulder the conflict, while opening the door for ISIS to reemerge and commit more horrors like the 2014 Sinjar Massacre, a genocidal act targeting Yezidi people.

“I visited northern Iraq earlier this year and saw for myself the strain on the infrastructure caused by the current level of refugees and internally displaced people," says Brita Fernandez Schmidt, Executive Director of Women for Women International - UK. "A further wave of refugees displaced by the conflict in Syria will have devastating effects both for the host community and those already displaced to northern Iraq. The women I met have experienced unthinkable violence and trauma already, and the outbreak of further conflict threatens to bring more risk, harm and terror to women." 

"The international community must stand together to support women survivors of war and end this conflict.”