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Cooperation in practice

Northern Iraq: Better living conditions for refugees and locals

Refugees in a camp for internally displaced people in the Kurdistan-Iraq region

About 3.2 million Iraqis are internally displaced, having fled the terror of the organisation calling itself Islamic State. According to UN estimates, one third of them have gone to the Iraqi Kurdistan region in northern Iraq. In addition, more than 240,000 people from Syria have fled to that region. The Kurdistan Regional Government, with assistance from the international community, is undertaking enormous efforts to meet the refugees’ needs. In the Province of Dohuk alone, 18 refugee camps for up to 50,000 people each have been set up, and there are plans for further camps.

On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is working in the camps in the Dohuk region. Working in close cooperation with Welthungerhilfe, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and local organisations, GIZ is supporting local authorities’ infrastructure development efforts.

For instance, five health posts have been set up in the camps. GIZ has also worked with UNICEF to build seven schools and provide equipment for them. Three further schools are being built in Dohuk and Zakho. Psychosocial support and legal advice for refugees are focal aspects of Germany’s programmes. Community centres have been set up for this purpose in six camps.

All these activities are helping to improve the living conditions of internally displaced people, refugees and locals. German Development Minister Gerd Müller made a commitment regarding this project to the Kurdistan Regional Government when he visited northern Iraq in October 2014. So far, the BMZ has provided a total of 37 million euros for this effort. Over the next two years, the successful activities under this project are to be continued and expanded.

Results so far

  • 500 family tents and 20 communal tents have been made available to provide temporary shelter and space for social and cultural activities, benefiting more than 145,000 people.
  • Newly established schools are already being attended by 2,900 students, and schools for another approximately 2,500 children and youth are currently under construction in host communities.
  • Some 100,000 people have access to the varied education and counselling programmes offered by the community centres set up by GIZ in six camps.
  • Social workers are providing psychosocial and trauma counselling for about 3,500 people a month.
  • 250,000 people now have better access to health care.
  • 30,000 people in the camps have benefited from small-scale infrastructure projects such as the construction of water pipes and sewage canals, and road repairs.

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