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Iraq Flash Update No.2 - 20 October 2019

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Publication date


  • 3,122 refugees crossed into Iraq since the commencement of hostilities.
  • 2,942 refugees accommodated in Bardarash camp
  • Kurdish authorities confirmed that formal and informal borders will remain open for Syrians to seek safety
  • Reportedly the Kurdish authorities in control of the Syrian side of the border at Peshkabour are preventing Syrians from crossing into Iraq
  • Yaarbeih/Rabeiah official border crossing between Syria and Iraq (Ninewa) has been handed over to the Syrian Army by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Key figures

Estimated planning figures for potential refugee influx from North East Syria 50,000 individuals

3,122 individuals crossed into Iraq as of 19 October 2019

Existing Population of Concern in Iraq
270,844 Refugees and Asylum-Seekers (as of 30 September 2019)
229,285 Syrian refugees as of 30 September)
1,55 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) (as of 31 August 2019)
4,35 million Returnees (as of 31 August 2019)

Contingency stock
CRIs and tents for 10,000 families in country

To Be Announced

Background developments in Syria

Since the start of military action in north-east Syria (NES), an estimated 166,000 civilians are reported to have been displaced. Many have been displaced multiple times. There are reports of 3,340 families (approx. 16,700 people) having been displaced from seven communities in northern Aleppo towards Menbij town and its surrounding areas.

Following negotiations between Turkey and the USA in Ankara, a pause for five days (until 22 October) of Operation Peace Spring was announced on 17 October. The SDF backed forces are expected to withdraw 20 miles (30 km) south of the border. Nevertheless, there have been reports of continuing shelling and small arms fire in Ras Al Ain.

UNHCR, with 54 staff, continues to operate out of Qamishli, responding to the needs of the affected population through the provision of emergency items and community-based protection in camps, collective shelters and host communities, in close cooperation with partners. International staff are expected to return to Qamishli in the coming days. There are reports of people returning from Qamishli town to their villages in the surrounding areas. Some families displaced from Darbasiyah are also reported to have started returning.

UNHCR continues to maintain eight operational community centres in AlHasakeh, including two in Al-Hol camp, as well as three satellite centres in AlHasakeh. These static facilities are also supported by four mobile units in AlHasakeh as well as 248 outreach volunteers in Al-Hasakeh and 25 outreach volunteers in Ar-Raqqa and nine in Deir-ez-Zor.

The protection situation of IDPs and the civilian population inside Syria remains a critical concern given the evolving situation and continued displacement. There are immediate concerns for the civilian population remaining in Tel Abyad, Ain Eissa, Tal Tamer, Ras al Ein and Malikiyah. It is imperative that civilians are protected from direct attacks and the effects of hostilities and allowed to move in safety and voluntarily to safe places, with special protection afforded to children and other persons with specific needs. UNHCR is particularly concerned that civilians have the right to seek safety and the right to seek asylum in third countries such as Iraq.

In Mabrouka Camp the remaining 14 families (83 individuals) are still awaiting evacuation to Areesha. In Raqqa, advocacy for unimpeded access and solutions is ongoing for the 27 unaccompanied children in an interim centre managed by local authorities. Protection partners continue to advocate for the return of confiscated personal identification documentation and freedom of movement out of camps to locations of choice. This includes the 58 families in Mahmoudli (displaced from Ein Issa Camp) wanting to leave. Protection assessments, advocacy and response are ongoing, including assistance, referrals and case management for the most vulnerable identified so far following the initial rapid assessments including women at risk, unaccompanied elderly in need of support, persons with disabilities, persons with serious medical conditions and children at risk. Protection partners are planning to commence more comprehensive protection assessments in the coming days, starting with the 34 collective shelters in Hassakeh.

As of 20 October, the delivery of assistance via the M4 highway remains difficult.