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Pathways to Resilience for Syrian Refugees Living in Camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

A feasibility assessment on how to transform the refugee camps and the neighbouring towns into resilient communities, as part of a new longer term approach to the Syrian refugee crisis.

After three years of civil war in Syria and millions of displaced in the neighbouring countries, the humanitarian community adopted a new response plan that aims to shift from providing pure humanitarian assistance to a more longer term approach, that is, support the resilience of the refugees and their host community. UNDP and UNHCR have been endorsing and leading this new approach. With a focus on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, MERI has been undertaking a research project to advance and apply the concept of resilient livelihoods for Syrian refugees living in the camps.

Download the project final report here.

The research, which took place between April and July 2015, aimed at identifying strategies that help transforming the refugee camps and the neighbouring towns into resilient communities, less vulnerable to shocks. In other words, strategies that empower people’s own ability to achieve their livelihood expectations in conflict-affected areas and reducing their dependence on external aid.

Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative research, the project includes three pillars:

  • Evaluation of the livelihoods baseline and the impact of the crisis for both refugees and the host community.
  • Understanding the social and political consensus in the Kurdistan Region for a longer term resilience-building approach for Syrian refugees.
  • Formulation of recommendations to base a resilient livelihoods programme by project partners and the Kurdistan Region’s policy-makers.

The outputs of the project consists on a set of reports available below, with the Integrated Policy Report containing the overall analysis and the key elements for a strategic approach to a resilience-based development response:

  1. Desk Review
  2. Quantitative assessment: household survey
  3. Qualitative assessment: focus group discussions
  4. Integrated policy report

The overall findings indicate that, while it is feasible to bring the living standards of both refugees and host community to a resilient situation, this has to be achieved by (i) the provision of direct livelihoods support to host and displaced communities; (ii) capacity building within Kurdistan’s local authorities; and (iii) advocacy for key policy changes that currently limit livelihood opportunities.

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About MERI:  The Middle East Research Institute is Iraq’s leading policy-research institute and think tank. It is an independent, entirely grant-funded not-for-profit organisation, based in Erbil, Kurdistan Region.  Its mission is to contribute to the process of nation-building, state-building and democratisation via engagement, research, analysis and policy debates.

MERI’s main objectives include promoting and developing human rights, good governance, the rule of law and social and economic prosperity. MERI conduct high impact, high quality research (including purpose-based field work) and has published extensively in areas of: human rights, government reform, international politics, national security, ISIS, refugees, IDPs, minority rights (Christians, Yezidis, Turkmen, Shabaks, Sabi mandeans), Baghdad-Erbil relations, Hashd Al-Shabi, Peshmarga, violence against women, civil society. MERI engages policy- and decision-makers, the civil society and general public via publication, focused group discussions and conferences (MERI Forum).

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