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Iraq: Despite insecurity, assistance to Iranian Kurds in Al Tash camp being maintained

Briefing notes

Iraq: Despite insecurity, assistance to Iranian Kurds in Al Tash camp being maintained

19 November 2004

Despite the extremely dangerous situation and restricted access in the Fallujah region, UNHCR has managed to continue its general assistance to the 4,000 Iranian Kurdish population in Al Tash camp, close to Ramadi and not far from Fallujah itself. UNHCR's partners are providing water, health, sanitation and food to the Iranian refugees, the majority of whom have opted to remain in the camp in spite of the general insecurity in the area.

Tens of thousands of people are thought to have been displaced by the fighting in Fallujah. However, UNHCR has no staff on the ground, and cannot monitor the situation or assess the information coming out of the region. As we said last week, we remain extremely concerned about the displaced population.

In quieter parts of Iraq, UNHCR-facilitated repatriation is ongoing. In the last 10 days, five convoys moved from Iran to northern and southern Iraq, bringing home over 871 people who insisted on returning. Crossings through the mountainous northern border will be suspended as of the end of November, because of the bad weather conditions during winter in this area. In the south, however, repatriations will be extended to another nine governorates. UNHCR has so far facilitated the returns of 18,360 Iraqis. We must stress, however that UNHCR is not encouraging returns to Iraq at this stage because of the fragile situation in the country. We only facilitate the repatriation of Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries who are determined to go back despite the difficulties in their homeland.