In cooperation with the UNHCR the Danish Refugee Council signed an agreement with the authorities of the Kurdish region of Iraq to provide expert assistance in the establishment of 13 new refugee camps to house 3-400.000 Iraqi displaced.
The Kurdish region of Iraq has received 220,000 Syrian refugees, and up to 600,000 displaced Iraqis have followed as a result of militant attacks in Iraq since June this year.
"We are faced with a serious capacity problem - the Kurdish authorities do what they can, but displaced families are forced to find shelter in school buildings, over-crowded camps or even in the street. The situation is untenable, not least bearing in mind that winter sets in in a few month. In light of these challenges the agreement with the Kurdish authorities to establish 13 new camps with a capacity of 3-400.000 people is an important step forward, "says Head of Emergency for the Danish Refugee Council Rasmus Stuhr Jakobsen, who is currently in the Kurdish region of Iraq.
At the same time the Danish Refugee Council expands its emergency relief operations from Dohuk and Erbil.
"We are already providing emergency relief in the form of food and water and we are negotiating with international donors, including the EU, the UN and a number of governments for additional funds. We have also deployed experts to Iraq to lead efforts to ensure the displaced families' access to water and sanitation, food and shelter," says Rasmus Stuhr Jakobsen.
The Danish Refugee Council has been working in Iraq since 2003, and expanded operations when Syrian refugees began to arrive in large numbers increasing the pressure on receiving capacity.
"This is a huge task, and we will coordinate efforts in close cooperation with the UN. At the same time, we already have operational presence, capacity and established networks on the ground in both central Iraq and the Kurdish region, and this is vital for our ability to scale up our emergency response. We are ready to engage as a central humanitarian actor in Iraq as we have done in the Syrian crisis, "says Rasmus Stuhr Jakobsen.
DRC has been present in the Middle East since late 2003 and was one of the first international humanitarian organizations able to provide assistance following the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Over the years the program has developed in both geographical spread and the types of assistance provided following the multiple conflict-induced displacement in the region.