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Population Movements

Iraqi Refugee Health Profile

To Jordan and Syria

Calculating the total Iraqi refugee population is difficult because Iraqi refugees are not required to register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 15. Some refugees avoid registration for fear that they will be detained or deported. In 2006, Jordan had the highest estimated ratio of refugees to total population of any country in the world 16. Due to the current unrest in Syria, Iraqi refugees there are increasingly returning to Iraq 35.

The first waves of Iraqi refugees arriving in Syria and Jordan in 2003 brought resources with them, and they did not need assistance. Most did not register with UNHCR and lived alongside non-refugee Iraqis, urban Jordanians, and Syrians 4, 6. Subsequent waves of Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan tend to live with families or rent apartments, often in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions 17.

Table 1: Top Countries of Residence for Iraqi Refugees who Resettled in the United States, 2008-2013 (N=90,607)

Country of residence pre-immigrationArrivals in the United States
Jordan22,278
Syria19,902
Iraq19,454
Turkey15,355
Lebanon8,501
Egypt2,924
United Arab Emirates719
Yemen221
Tunisia214
Kuwait204

Source: CDC's Electronic Disease Notification system (EDN) 18

To the United States

Before Iraqis came to the United States as refugees, many came as immigrants. Detroit, Chicago, and San Diego have the largest Iraqi-American communities in the country (6). Iraqi refugees resettling in the United States in recent years are from a number of countries (Table 1) and they are joining nearly 12,000 Iraqis who were admitted after the first Gulf War (6). Approximately 91,000 Iraqis arrived from 2008 to 2013 (Figure 2). The largest communities are in California, Michigan, Texas, Arizona, and Illinois (Figure 3) (19). However, once refugees arrive in a state as part of the US Resettlement Program, they are free to relocate elsewhere, and secondary migration to join an already established Iraqi community is common. Of Iraqi immigrants resettled in the United States, approximately 30% are under 15 years old, 50% are 15-44 years old, 15% are 45-64 years old, and 4% are ≥65 years (Figure 4) (18).

Figure 2: Iraqi Refugee Arrivals in the United States, 2008-2013 (N=90,607)  The graph shows the number of Iraqi refugee Arriving to the US between 2008-2013.

Source: US Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS) 19

Figure 3: States of Primary Resettlement for Iraqi Refugees, FY 2008-2013 (N=90,607)  This map of the United States shows in which states Iraqi refugees have been resettled.  The top 5 states are: California, Michigan, Texas, Arizona, and Illinois.

Top 10 States of primary resettlement for Iraqi refugees

Top 10 States*No.(%)
California20,24022
Michigan13,86015
Texas7,6288
Arizona5,5746
Illinois5,3076
Mass.3,1523
Virginia2,8543
New York2,6143
Washington2,3743
Tennessee1,9332

* The remaining 45,051 refugees resettled in 39 other states. Source: WRAPS 19

Age Distribution for Iraqi Refugees Resettled in the United States, 2008-2013 (N=90,607)*

  The graph shows the age distribution of Iraqi Refugees resettled in the US.  The graph shows that for both males and females the most common age group is 15-44 years old.    * 3,039 refugees of unknown age
Source: CDC's Electronic Disease Notification System (EDN)
18

References

  1. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. UNHCR Iraq Fact Sheet. 2010. Accessed November 2013. http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e486426.html
  2. Queensland Health Multicultural Services. Community Profiles for Healthcare Providers: Iraqi Australians. Queensland Health. [Online] July 8, 2011. [Cited: September 13, 2011.] www.health.qld.gov.au/multicultural.
  3. Giese, Amanda. An Assessment of the Health of Iraqi Refugees in Chicago. Heartland Alliance. 2010.
  4. Harper, Andrew. Iraq's Refugees: Ignored and Unwanted. 869, 2008, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 90, pp. 169-190.
  5. Doocy, Shannon, et al. Food Security and Humanitarian Assistance Among Displaced Iraqi Populations in Jordan and Syria. 2, 2011, Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 72, pp. 273-282.
  6. Ghareeb, Edmund, Ranard, Donald and Tutunji, Jenab. Refugees from Iraq: Their History, Cultures, and Background Experiences. Center for Applied Linguistics. 2008. COR Center Enhanced Refugee Backgrounder No. 1.
  7. Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children. Iraqi Refugee Women and Youth in Jordan: Reproductive Health Findings, A Snapshot from the Field. 2007.
  8. Taylor, Eboni et al. Physical and Mental Health Status of Iraqi Refugees Resettled in the United States.  Springer, Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, August, 2013. Web. August, 2013.
  9. Iraq Family Health Survey 2006/7 (World Health Organization). Accessed 2012, at http://www.emro.who.int/iraq/pdf/ifhs_report_en.pdf).rm
  10. Terrazas, Aaron. Iraqi Immigrants in the United States. Migration Information Source. [Online] March 5, 2009. [Cited: September 9, 2011.] http://www.migrationinformation.org/USfocus/display.cfm?id=721.
  11. O'Donnell, Kelly and Newland, Kathleen. The Iraqi Refugee Crisis: The Need for Action. Migration Policy Institute. 2008.
  12. Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Tips for Health Care Providers about Iraqi Refugees. 2010.
  13. Stratis Health. Iraqis in Minnesota. Stratis Health. [Online] 11 1, 2009. [Cited: September 13, 2011.] http://www.stratishealth.org.
  14. Saadi, Altaf, Bond, Barbara and Percac-Lima, Sanja. Perspectives on Preventive Health Care and Barriers to Breast Cancer Screening Among Iraqi Women Refugees. 2011, Journal of Immigrant & Minority Health. PMID 21901446 .
  15. IRC Commission on Iraqi Refugees. A Tough Road Home: Uprooted Iraqis in Jordan, Syria and Iraq. New York : International Rescue Committee, 2010.
  16. Frelick, Bill. "The Silent Treatment": Fleeing Iraq, Surviving in Jordan. [ed.] Peter Bouckhaert, Christoph Wilcke and Sarah Leah Whitson. Human Rights Watch. November 2006, Vol. 18, 10.
  17. Schinina, et al. Assessment on Psychosocial Needs of Iraqis Displaced in Jordan and Lebanon. International Organization for Migration. 2008.
  18. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012), Electronic Disease Notification System (EDN).
  19. US Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS).
  20. Joint Appeal by UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO. Meeting the Health Needs of Iraqis Displaced in Neighbouring Countries. 2007.
  21. World Health Organization/UNICEF/Johns Hopkins University. The Health Status of the Iraqi Population in Jordan: 2009
  22. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; United Nations Children's Development Fund; World Food Program. Assessment on the Situation of Iraqi Refugees in Syria. 2006.
  23. Women's Refugee Commission. Baseline Study: Dcumenting Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of Iraqi Refugees and the Status of Family Planning Services in UNHCR's Operations in Amman, Jordan. 2011.
  24. Chynoweth, Sarah. The Need for Priority Reproductive Health Services for Displaced Iraqi Women and Girls. 31, 2008, Reproductive Health Matters, Vol. 16, pp. 93-102.
  25. World Health Organization, Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) website. Accessed September, 2012. http://www.emro.who.int/
  26. Ramos, M, et al. Health of Resettled Iraqi Refugees--San Diego County, California, October 2007-September 2009. 2010, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Vol. 59, pp. 1614-1618.
  27. World Health Organization. Tuberculosis Profile: Iraq. World Health Organization. [Online] January, 29th 2013. [Cited: January 29th, 2013] www.who.int/tb/data.
  28. Yanni, E, et al; The Health Profile and Chronic Diseases Comorbidities of US-Bound Iraqi Refugees Screened by the International Organization for Migration in Jordan: 2007–2009.    Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health; DOI 10.1007/s10903-012-9578-6
  29. World Health Organization. Non-Communicable Disease Profile: Iraq. World Health Organization. [Online] September 12, 2011. [Cited: September 12, 2011.] http://Infobase.who.int.
  30. International Rescue Committee. The Health of Refugees from Iraq. 2009. http://www.rescue.org/iraqi-refugees.
  31. Darwish-Yassine M, Wing D. Cancer epidemiology in Arab Americans and Arabs outside the Middle East. Ethn Dis. 2005;15 (1 Suppl 1):S1-5–S1-8.
  32. 32. Michigan Department of Community Health. Color me healthy: a profile of Michigan’s racial/ethnic populations, May 2008. 2011. Accessed on 22 Jan 2011 at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/ColorMeHealthyProfileMay2008_2362457.pdf
  33. Shah SM, et al. Arab American Immigrants in New York: health care and cancer knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs. J Immigr Minor Health. 2008;10:429–36.
  34. Alhasnawi, Salih, et al. The prevalence and correlates of DSM-IV disorders in the Iraq Mental Health Survey (IMHS). 2, 2009, World Psychiatry, Vol. 8, pp. 97-109.
  35. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 2013 UNHCR country operations profile - Iraq. http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e486426.html
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