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Iraq: no man's land refugees

Briefing Notes, 10 December 2004

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 10 December 2004, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

A group of 185 Iranian Kurd refugees arrived in Sweden on Thursday, after spending more than 18 months in the no-man's land between Iraq and Jordan. They join another 202 Iranian Kurds who arrived in Stockholm two weeks ago after being accepted for resettlement in Sweden.

The permanent resettlement of these 387 refugees is the result of months of effort by UNHCR. However, the refugee agency wants to draw attention to the plight of some nine hundred refugees who remain near the Jordanian border 760 of them still in the no-man's-land, another 130 in Ruweished camp inside Jordan. In both locations, refugees have been living under very harsh conditions since the spring of 2003, staying under tents in a desert area subject to extreme climatic variations. They now face a second winter of freezing temperatures with no immediate solution in sight.

Most of the refugees in Ruweished and in the no man's land are Iranian Kurds and Palestinians who had previously been in exile in Iraq, but fled to escape the fighting and unrest last year. Since then, UNHCR has submitted 880 cases for resettlement to such nations as the United States, Australia and the Scandinavian countries. Some 500 of these requests are still pending.

UNHCR also wrote to many Arab countries requesting them to grant shelter, even on a temporary basis, to Palestinian refugees stuck at the Jordanian border. Last year, Jordan itself accepted to give temporary asylum to 386 Palestinians with Jordanian spouses while 250 Palestinians chose to leave Ruweished to go back to Iraq. The refugee agency has undertaken to assist countries with the financial cost of hosting Palestinian refugees and we hope for a positive reaction from Arab states.

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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

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

The UN refugee agency has launched a US$60 million appeal to fund its work helping hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people. The new appeal concludes that unremitting violence in Iraq will likely mean continued mass internal and external displacement affecting much of the surrounding region. The appeal notes that the current exodus is the largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948.

UNHCR has warned that the longer this conflict goes on, the more difficult it will become for the hundreds of thousands of displaced and the communities that are trying to help them – both inside and outside Iraq. Because the burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous, it is essential that the international community support humanitarian efforts.

The US$60 million will cover UNHCR's protection and assistance programmes for Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey, as well as non-Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people within Iraq itself.

Posted on 10 January 2007

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

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