UNHCR and partners assist sudden influx of Syrians in northern Iraq

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Thousands of Syrians streamed across a bridge over the Tigris River, entering Iraq on Thursday. [Photo: UNHCR/G.Gubaeva]

Thousands of Syrians who streamed into northern Iraq on Thursday are receiving assistance from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and its partners.

The agency reports that an initial group of 750 Syrians arrived in the Kurdistan region that day, followed by between 5,000 to 7,000 others.

UNHCR says the majority were families consisting of women, children and elderly persons, some of whom reported having relatives in the area.

Adrian Edwards, UNHCR spokesperson in Geneva, told reporters on Friday that the factors behind this "sudden massive movement" are not really clear.

"Together with our partners and the local authorities, we worked into the early hours of this morning to aid new arrivals. Water and food was provided to them. IOM and the Kurdistan Regional Government provided hundreds of buses to move the refugees to Dohuk and Erbil. At Erbil, about 2,000 people are now in a camp where UNHCR has established an emergency transit and reception area. Some of them are in tents; other arrivals are staying in mosques, or with family or friends in the area."

UNHCR says some of the Syrians identified themselves as students who explained that they had been studying in northern Iraq and had only returned home over the recent holidays marking the end of Ramadan.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’21″

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