Past eventResearch Event

The Iraqi Displacement Crisis: The Situation in Syria

27 February 2008 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Chatham House, London


Laurens Jolles, Country Representative for Syria, UNHCR



Coffee will be available from 11:40.

This is a Middle East Programme roundtable meeting.

Despite a recent trickle of returns to Baghdad amidst the drop in the frequency of bombings and suicide attacks, Iraq's displaced are the world's largest group of urban refugees, and the largest refugee crisis the Middle East has witnessed since 1948.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that more than 4 million Iraqis are displaced from their homes, including 2.2 million inside Iraq and up to 2 million who have fled to safety in neighbouring countries, mainly Syria and Jordan, which continue to bear an unprecedented load on their economies and social infrastructures.

Laurens Jolles currently serves as country representative for the UN Refugee Agency's operations in Syria, where some 1.2 million displaced Iraqis have sought refuge. For the past two years he has overseen the UN's work to protect and assist Iraqi refugees in this challenging and politically sensitive environment.

During his 23 years with UNHCR, Laurens Jolles has taken up various positions spanning Asia, the Middle East and Europe, including five-years at the organisation's Geneva headquarters. A lawyer by profession, Mr Jolles has focused on the legal and practical challenges relating to refugee protection.

This meeting will be held on the record.