Last Updated: Friday, 29 August 2014, 14:18 GMT

Iraq needs continued international engagement - UN refugee agency

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 2 June 2009
Cite as UN News Service, Iraq needs continued international engagement - UN refugee agency, 2 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a27c6191e.html [accessed 31 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Although the humanitarian situation in Iraq has been out of the spotlight recently, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) today cautioned that the situation for the millions of uprooted Iraqis both inside and outside the country remains dire and urged the international community to maintain their support.

"While overall security conditions have improved, they are not yet sustainable enough to have encouraged massive returns of Iraqis," agency spokesperson Ron Redmond said, noting that more than 1.5 million Iraqis are still living in other countries, mostly in Syria and Jordan, with another 2 million internally displaced.

Although some have returned to their homes, many of these returns have neither been safe nor sustainable, he added. "It is UNHCR's opinion that Iraqis should not be forced back, which would be detrimental to the safety of those concerned and would negatively affect the fragile absorption capacity of the country."

The Government of Iraq is torn between many priorities in the political, electoral and national reconciliation areas, and faces many obstacles related to socio-economic issues and requirements for the return and reintegration of the uprooted, according to UNHCR.

Mr. Redmond said authorities must make strides in implementing the national policy on displacement and return; take action on land allocation and property restitution; and launch housing and rehabilitation programmes.

For its part, UNHCR, along with its partners, is still hindered by a shortage of funds and the need for heavy security which impedes its mobility and ability to deliver assistance, he said.

Nevertheless, the agency has expanded its presence to 14 of Iraq's 17 provinces, the spokesperson said, "but these efforts will remain piecemeal if not integrated into a national, Government-led framework aimed at addressing the myriad social and economic challenges that must be overcome."

UNHCR's $299 million appeal for its work in Iraq for 2009 is less than half funded, he said, warning that without an influx of resources, some programmes cannot be implemented.

Outside Iraq, asylum countries are feeling the burden and are increasingly concerned over what they believe could become a protracted refugee situation, Mr. Redmond noted.

"Iraq has experienced waves of mass displacement over the last 40 years that have resulted in deep social dislocation and complex humanitarian problems," he said. "What we are dealing with today is the accumulation of these problems. Bringing stability to such a complex situation is going to take time and requires the collective and continuous engagement of all."

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