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Iranian Kurd refugees - different destinies and destinations

News Stories, 26 November 2004

© UNHCR/K.Nagasaka
Iranian Kurd women learning to weave at Iraq's Al Tash refugee camp, which has since been caught up in fighting.

GENEVA, Nov 26 (UNHCR) Thirteen Iranian Kurd refugee families have arrived in northern Iraq after fleeing central Iraq's Al Tash camp last week, but the fate of some 1,400 others on the run and another 2,800 who remain at the camp is still unknown. Meanwhile, a separate group of Iranian Kurds has been resettled to Sweden.

Until recently, Al Tash camp, located near Ramadi about 50 km from Fallujah, hosted nearly 4,200 Iranian Kurd refugees. Last week, 1,400 of them fled the camp after generalised fighting around Ramadi, including an attack by armed men against the police post inside the camp.

"UNHCR, which has no staff on the ground, has been informed by our implementing partner in Al Tash that access to the camp is currently not possible because of the very difficult security conditions in the area," said UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis at a news briefing in Geneva on Friday.

The police station is now empty, and there is no one to provide security for the remaining 2,800 refugees believed to be still in Al Tash. Furthermore, these refugees will not have received their monthly food ration since the public distribution system, which targets both Iraqis and refugees in the area, has broken down because of the fighting.

"This is an extremely serious situation, and UNHCR is working with its implementing partner to find a way of accessing the camp as a matter of urgency," said Pagonis.

© UNHCR/A.Van Genderen Stort
One of the Iranian Kurd families that have been resettled to Sweden.

She noted that 13 families out of the 1,400 who fled the camp have arrived in Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq, where a UNHCR Iraqi staff member is interviewing them to determine what happened in Al Tash and what their current needs are. The fate of the others who fled the camp is unknown.

Meanwhile, another group of Iranian Kurd refugees who had fled Iraq during the conflict of spring 2003 and spent the last year and half in the no man's land between Iraq and Jordan have left Amman for a new life in Sweden. A total of 202 refugees flew out of the Jordanian capital on Wednesday, while another 182 are scheduled to leave early next month.

"However, there are still almost 650 people stuck in no man's land, and UNHCR continues to advocate and lobby for resettlement for this group," said Pagonis.

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Resettlement

An alternative for those who cannot go home, made possible by UNHCR and governments.

UNHCR Resettlement Handbook and Country Chapters

July 2011 edition of the UNHCR Resettlement Handbook.

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Between February and October 2011, more than 1 million people crossed into Tunisia to escape conflict in Libya. Most were migrant workers who made their way home or were repatriated, but the arrivals included refugees and asylum-seekers who could not return home or live freely in Tunisia.

UNHCR has been trying to find solutions for these people, most of whom ended up in the Choucha Transit Camp near Tunisia's border with Libya. Resettlement remains the most viable solution for those registered as refugees at Choucha before a cut-off date of December 1, 2011.

As of late April, 14 countries had accepted 2,349 refugees for resettlement, 1,331 of whom have since left Tunisia. The rest are expected to leave Choucha later this year. Most have gone to Australia, Norway and the United States. But there are a more than 2,600 refugees and almost 140 asylum-seekers still in the camp. UNHCR continues to advocate with resettlement countries to find solutions for them.

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Crisis in Iraq: Displacement

UNHCR and its partners estimate that out of a total population of 26 million, some 1.9 million Iraqis are currently displaced internally and more than 2 million others have fled to nearby countries. While many people were displaced before 2003, increasing numbers of Iraqis are now fleeing escalating sectarian, ethnic and general violence. Since January 2006, UNHCR estimates that more than 800,000 Iraqis have been uprooted and that 40,000 to 50,000 continue to flee their homes every month. UNHCR anticipates there will be approximately 2.3 million internally displaced people within Iraq by the end of 2007. The refugee agency and its partners have provided emergency assistance, shelter and legal aid to displaced Iraqis where security has allowed.

In January 2007, UNHCR launched an initial appeal for US$60 million to fund its Iraq programme. Despite security issues for humanitarian workers inside the country, UNHCR and partners hope to continue helping up to 250,000 of the most vulnerable internally displaced Iraqis and their host communities

Posted on 12 June 2007

Crisis in Iraq: Displacement

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

After Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in Iraq in 2003, groups of refugees who had lived in the country for many years tried to leave the chaos and lawlessness that soon ensued. Hundreds of people started fleeing to the border with Jordan, including Palestinians in Baghdad and Iranian Kurds from the Al Tash refugee camp in central Iraq.

Aside from a few Palestinians with family connections inside the neighbouring country, the refugees were refused entry and free movement in Jordan. Thousands were soon stranded in the no-man's land between Iraq and Jordan or at the desert camp of Ruweished, located 60 kilometres inside Jordan.

Since 2003, Palestinians, Iranian Kurds, Iranians, Sudanese and Somalis have been living there and suffering the scorching heat and freezing winters of the Jordanian desert. UNHCR and its partners have provided housing and assistance and tried to find solutions – the agency has helped resettle more than 1,000 people in third countries. At the beginning of 2007, a total of 119 people – mostly Palestinians – remained in Ruweished camp without any immediate solution in sight.

Posted on 20 February 2007

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

Iraq: Uprooted and living in a warehousePlay video

Iraq: Uprooted and living in a warehouse

An Iraqi man who turned down resettlement to the U.S. in 2006 tells how it feels now to be a "refugee" in his own country, in limbo, hoping to restart life in another Iraqi city.
Iraq: Uprooted and living in a warehousePlay video

Iraq: Uprooted and living in a warehouse

An Iraqi man who turned down resettlement to the U.S. in 2006 tells how it feels now to be a "refugee" in his own country, in limbo, hoping to restart life in another Iraqi city.
Iraq: High Commissioner visits Arbat campPlay video

Iraq: High Commissioner visits Arbat camp

Concluding a visit to Iraq, UNHCR chief António Guterres met with Syrian refugees in Arbat camp in the Kurdistan region. Guterres noted the recent proliferation of humanitarian crises, but urged the international community not to forget about Syria, "the mega protracted crisis of our times."