The Impact of the Syria Crisis
The impact of the protracted and escalating situation in Syria is being felt throughout the region, with the growing refugee crisis as one of its most pressing consequences. Amid the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria, the international community and national actors are struggling to respond to massive population displacements across the region and to meet even the most urgent and immediate basic needs of this extremely vulnerable population. In addition to recent displacement, the protracted displacement of thousands of refugees who fled Syria in the earlier phases of the conflict is posing new and diverse challenges to the authorities and humanitarian actors, including the growing social, economic and demographic long-term consequences currently facing receiving host communities. Iraq has not been spared the effects of this regional dynamic. As a consequence of the continued mass influx of Syrian refugees since mid-August 2013, the overall refugee population in Iraq is estimated at over 220,000. The country continues to feel the effects of resultant pressures as the population of Syrian refugees continues to grow. Furthermore, the number of Iraqi returnees, who had previously been displaced to Syria as a result of conflict in Iraq, has reached over 50,000 since the start of the crisis and continues to rise, adding significantly to already challenging conditions.
This unparalleled population influx represents a significant burden for Iraq, as the country is still struggling with the consequences of its own protracted conflicts and internal population displacements. Although the number of Syrian refugees in Iraq remains lower than in other countries in the region, in the present context the crisis may have disproportionately higher effects on Iraq’s stability and security, with subsequent and inestimable effects on the stability of the entire region.