Friday, 24 November 2017

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"An urgent need for international leadership to break the cycle of violence in Syria"

Angelina Jolie visits Iraq 2015 - Picture by UNHCR

26 January 2015 – "It is shocking to see how the humanitarian situation in Iraq has deteriorated since my last visit. On top of large numbers of Syrian refugees, two million Iraqis were displaced by violence in 2014 alone. Many of these innocent people have been uprooted multiple times as they seek safety amidst shifting frontlines", said UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie. Ms Jolie is currently in Iraq, visiting Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqi citizens to offer support and highlight their dire needs.

On the first day of her two-day visit, Ms Jolie visited internally displaced Iraqis living in an informal settlement and a formal camp at Khanke. These sites now accommodate more than 20,000 people from the Yazidi minority.

Jolie spoke to people with dramatic stories of escape, extreme hardship and loss, including from people who still have family members detained, and others who had heard their daughters were moved to Syria. Others had lost all contact with their loved ones and had no idea of their fate.

Over 11 million Syrians have fled their homes

Later that day, Ms Jolie returned to the crowded Domiz camp which now hosts over 50,000 Syrian refugees – more than a fifth of the entire population of Syrian refugees in Iraq. In total, over 3.8 million Syrians have fled to neighbouring states. Another 7.6 million Syrians are displaced inside the country.

In addition, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) currently hosts some 900,000 displaced people, placing an enormous strain on hosting communities, authorities and infrastructure. An estimated 20 per cent of the five million people in the KRI are either displaced Iraqis from elsewhere or refugees.

A failing international community

Massive aid responses have been launched over the last six months, but the operations are hampered by lack of funding alongside security constraints. UNHCR, for example, has received only 53 per cent of its required USD 337 million for its response to internal displacement in Iraq during 2014.

"The war in Syria is at the root of so many of the problems faced here in Iraq and across the region", Ms Jolie said in her speech wrapping up the first day. "We are being tested here as an international community and so far, for all the immense efforts and good intentions, the international community is failing."

"There is an urgent need for international leadership to break the cycle of violence in Syria, and to find a way forward towards a just and sustainable peace agreement."

 

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