In pictures: Syrian refugees left in the cold

Residents of the Domiz refugee camp in Iraq's Kurdistan region prepare for winter.


The number of Syrian refugees in Iraq's Kurdistan region has reached 200,000. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expects that the number may exceed 500,000 by the end of 2013.

There are about 80,000 refugees currently living in the Domiz camp, 20km southeast of Dohuk city and about 60km from the Syria-Iraq border.

Local authorities established the camp in April 2012. The Kurdish security police ensure security there and in the surrounding areas.

The authorities are keeping the borders open for Syrians of Kurdish origin. Refugees walk the three-mile dirt road snaking through no-man's land to the Kurdish region of Iraq. The Sahela border crossing is the main escape route for Syrians of Kurdish origin.

"When a country is physically destroyed, its people dying and fleeing and a state and its services collapsing, the most important thing a neighbour can do is to keep the borders open. The Kurdistan region is an anchor of peace and stability in a very troubled part of the world," António Guterres, UNHCR chief, said.

Guterres called the Syria conflict the "worst threat to global peace and security since the last century. We are witnessing death and destruction, the collapse of the state and the enormous suffering of the people".

He noted that all relief agencies are dramatically underfunded at a time when millions of Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria and the number of refugees is fast approaching two million.