Humanitarian information needs and the Syria crisis
21 Aug. 2014

A young Syrian refugee in a refugee camp in Northern Iraq. Photo: Mustafa Khayat

Syrian refugees in the Kurdish Region of Northern Iraq are in dire need of humanitarian information. An IMS needs assessment maps the most urgent needs and provides recommendations for humanitarian agencies

Information on the situation inside Syria is the number one important topic for refugees who have fled to the Kurdish Region of Northern Iraq, says the assessment.

This is followed by issues related to their current displacement such as services for their children, shelter, aid in general and rights and obligations related to their refugee status.

The assessment report provides an overview of the information and communications needs among Syrian camp and non-camp refugees in and around the city of Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdish Region of Northern Iraq, and gives insights into information and communications needs within the host community.

Download the full assessment here.

It was conducted earlier this year by interviewing nearly 400 households, local media, key informants in an around the city of Sulaymaniyah.

Produced to aid the implementation of humanitarian information efforts by humanitarian agencies responding to the Syria crisis in the Kurdish Region of Northern Iraq, the assessment underlines that efforts require tailored responses that take into account diverse issues including culture, language, education levels, the host environment and a tentative time frame of the displacement.

The report stresses that there is no magic answer to the question of which media channel is the most effective in providing humanitarian information and communication to the refugees:

“Different target groups require different approaches and it may not be effective to use one media product to address the needs of both refugees and their host population. The type of information in demand varies, and the preferred language of communication is not the same everywhere.

“When developing multiple media products, trust-building, transparency and equal access to information will be important to avoid any potential mistrust between host population and refugees caused by a lack of understanding of each-others’ language.”

Participatory approaches involving crises affected persons and communities have for years been at the forefront among humanitarian actors. Humanitarians have increasingly tried to include the voices of the direct beneficiaries and to involve them in decision-making and the design of aid projects, but this aspect has not received the attention it deserves, says the report:

“Ironically, the eagerness and pressure by humanitarians to respond to the needs and assist those in need often seems to overrule the principle of participation and direct engagement with the community.”

As part of our mandate to assist media in times of conflicts and crises, IMS works to enable local media to act as a link between crisis affected populations and international relief agencies. Read more about our work on humanitarian information.