My Hope is to Remain here

With the Syrian context heading into its eleventh year, durable solutions remain elusive for Syrian refugees in the region. In light of the increasingly protracted displacement they face, this research report examines whether, and in what ways, shared livelihoods services have and can contribute to better integration outcomes for Syrian refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and host communities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

Shared livelihoods can support more equal access to services for displaced people and host communities, promote the sustainability of service provision through using existing structures, and can facilitate social cohesion by enabling positive social interactions. The overall enabling policy environment and social relations in KRI are positive, including similar lived experiences, which presents a strong basis from which to build on.

That potential is not currently fully realized due to a number of challenges explored in this report, including lack of clarity on legal regulations for work rights; obstacles in enforcing labour laws; and economic challenges that call for an expansion of financial inclusion and private sector growth.

Drawing on 62 interviews with refugees, IDPs and host community members and 39 key informant interviews with stakeholders from the Kurdistan Regional Government, UN, donor agencies, private sector and NGOs, this report makes a series of recommendations to support efforts to bolster self-reliance in the short term and to support longer-term efforts towards local integration of displaced populations.

In practice, supporting refugees’ self-reliance in a sustainable manner calls for the inclusion of displaced people into national policies and systems, and for localized approaches to providing services to both refugees and host communities. Shared or integrated service delivery is in line with a more development-oriented approach to refugee hosting, which can ensure that both host and refugee populations benefit from and access the same services while strengthening national and local capacities and systems to provide such services in the future, therefore increasing potential for sustainable refugee-hosting and assistance.