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UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

18 April 2003

More would-be refugees arrive in no man's land

The UN refugee agency is very concerned regarding the fate of more than 250 people stuck in no man's land on the edge of Jordan's border with Iraq, some of whom have been waiting to enter Jordan for more than ten days.

The number of people encamped in precarious conditions at the frontier has more than doubled in recent days as more and more people flee Iraq and try to enter Jordan, only to be halted metres from the official border.

Among the people now stuck at the windswept frontier are some 40 Iraqis and Palestinians who fled their homes during the war or due to the looting and lawlessness that has erupted across Iraq in recent weeks.

The people in the no man's land at the edge of Jordan's Al Karama border are seeking entry to the refugee camps established for them at Ruwaished, 60 kilometres to the west.

Four Jordanian women are also at the frontier, refusing to be separated from their Palestinian husbands and children.

The vast majority of the people now stuck in Jordan's no man's land are more than 160 Iranian Kurds, refugees who fled from Iraq's Al Tash camp in the last week. These refugees say that they left Al Tash, located 120 kilometres west of Baghdad, following threats from armed groups. They said that local Iraqis told them the were no longer welcome, while others said they felt endangered by looting and lawlessness.

Another group of some 60 middle-aged and elderly Iranians, all previously recognized as refugees by various European and North American countries, have been waiting to enter Jordan since last Friday in order to proceed onwards. Some 30 other Iranians opted to go back into Iraq on Thursday.

Conditions in no man's land are hardly appropriate to shelter such a large group of children and adults, and sanitation is inadequate.

Fundamental human rights principles, such as the right to asylum as well as the right to live free from intimidation and forced expulsion, must be fully respected.