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UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

16 April 2003

The UN refugee agency's (UNHCR) representative in Jordan, Sten Bronee, on Tuesday signed a letter of understanding with Jordan's Minister of Interior, Mr. Quftan Majali, concerning the provision of international protection and humanitarian assistance to persons in need.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, had earlier written countries in the region asking them to keep their frontiers open to desperate people fleeing war and chaos inside Iraq.

Despite indications yesterday that some people stuck at the frontier would be allowed to enter Jordan, so far, no one from among the more than 200 people waiting in no-man's-land has been permitted to enter the country.

For more than a week now, two little Iraqi girls who lost their mother and 11 year - old brother when a bomb flattened their home, have been stuck in no-man's-land, together with their father, waiting to enter the refugee camp at Ruweished.

The same holds true for a family of Palestinians fleeing the war in Iraq. Still more than a week after they got to Al Karama, they remain encamped in Jordan's inhospitable no-man's-land.

Likewise, more than 190 Iranians remain stuck on the windswept frontier, living in miserable conditions. These people include 114 ethnic Iranian Kurds who fled Al Tash refugee camp west of Baghdad due to threats and lawlesness. Also at the border is another group of Iranians, all recognized as refugees by various western countries, who arrived beginning last Friday and who need to be properly interviewed.

Persons fleeing Iraq, both Iraqis and other residents, should be provided humanitarian assistance in Ruweished's camps, rather than remain stuck in the middle of no where.

Iraq's other frontiers are reportedly quiet, with no reported refugee movements.