Iraq - IOM Iraq is providing transport for the recent influx of Syrians who crossed the Turkey-Iraq border and are seeking refuge in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Most are from Kobane and fled during the latest violence.
Over 7,000 displaced Syrians crossed into northern Iraq this week at the Ibraheem Al-Khalil border crossing in Zakho, Dahuk Governorate, since the border officially opened on 11th October 2014.
In the last six days, IOM transported 6,906 Syrians from the border crossing to four camps in the KRI. To accommodate the flow of displaced, IOM is renting upwards of 70 buses and running two or more convoys per day.
The Syrians were transported to Gwelan Camp in Dahuk Governorate until the camp reached full capacity on 13th October. Since then destinations have included: Arbat Camp in Sulimaniyah Governorate, and Gawar Gusik Camp and Basirma Camp in Erbil Governorate. The journeys from the Ibraheem Al-Khalil border crossing to these camps take from four to eight hours.
After the Syrians pass through the border security check, IOM registers them, prepares family travel cards, and creates passenger manifests. The movements take place in cooperation with the government authorities and UNHCR.
Prior to the current influx in, from January to June 2014, IOM provided transport for more than 6,500 Syrian refugees moving from the border to camps inside the KRI. Before 11th October the Turkey-Iraq border was officially closed, but despite this, many Syrian refugees found ways to cross.
Since 25th September, the number of daily arrivals has increased, beginning with 60 or 70 people a day, and then rising to over 100 per day. From 25th September–10th October, IOM transported a total of 1,760 Syrians (355 families) from the border to camps.
IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss said: “IOM staffers are working fast in cooperation with government authorities and humanitarian partners to assist the thousands of Syrian refugees who are crossing into Iraq, and to prepare for the many more that we are expecting to arrive.”
Many of new arrivals expressed their sadness at having to leave their homes and livelihoods behind in Kobane. Some said they intend to join family and friends in Iraq. Others hoped to return to Syria when it is safe to do so.
IOM staff spoke with Abdullah, a Syrian man from Kobane, during the transport operation.
“My wife and I came here from Syria because of the injustice of our situation. We had to leave for safety. Because of the fighting, some of our family members were killed and some were captured. We have shed many tears for what we lost in Kobane. Our relatives there told us to come. There is peace here, but if things get better in Kobane, we will go back,” he said.
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