[T]he United Nations on Wednesday upgraded Iraq’s crisis to a level 3 humanitarian disaster — the most severe rating it has. “Now we’re focused on delivering water, food and essential items,” Colin MacInnes, deputy head of UNICEF in Iraq, told the Washington Post. “Iraq already has a level 3 polio disaster,” MacInnes continued, and as Syria across the border is also in the midst of a level 3 disaster, “that means we have currently three level 3 disasters that are affecting the country.”
“At the present moment, we have a very serious confrontation and we have meaningful levels of internal displacement. We are not yet witnessing a massive refugee outflow and I think it will depend on whether this crisis can be addressed effectively in the near future or whether it will be a protracted conflict,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres at a press briefing on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, for neighboring countries like Jordan, refugees from the original Syrian conflict remain a huge burden:
Tensions between Syrians and Jordanians are still a worry. Eighty percent of Syrian refugees live in Jordan’s cities and towns, where, since they are banned from working, they take black market jobs for low wages. The government says this has pushed down pay for Jordanians too. “The potential seeds of conflict are really there,” says Musa Shteiwi, who heads the University of Jordan’s Centre for Strategic Studies. A poll he ran late last year found that 73% of respondents were against hosting more refugees—up from 64% in 2012.
Jordan is asking donors to give it the $1 billion it says it will spend on additional security over the next three years thanks to the refugee influx—about as much as it has asked for education and health services for the refugees. It may also like to see a larger proportion of Syrians in controlled areas such as Azraq. Plans are already underway for a third refugee camp. Current urban dwellers are unlikely to be moved, but newcomers will find it harder to leave the camps.