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UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

9 April 2003

The UN refugee agency is very concerned about the general lawlessness that is apparent in parts of Iraq.

UNHCR's fears that growing chaos in Iraq's cities and the precarious humanitarian situation could combine to spark the displacement of civilians.

We're concerned that, if allowed to continue and intensify, looting and lawlessness in urban centres could lead to possible revenge attacks among certain parts of Iraqi society.

The current security vacuum, exacerbated by the continuing war and immediate humanitarian needs faced by the Iraqis, could combine to prompt people to flee.

We urge the occupying forces to take immediate measures to restore and maintain law and order and to ensure that humanitarian assistance flows to those who need it.

War is still ongoing, and the euphoria apparent in some cities can be easily replaced by violence. We're very concerned that people may be displaced at this critical stage.

The occupying forces must ensure law and order on the ground so that Iraqi civilians do not suffer during this critical period.

Around the region we have not yet seen any significant refugee flows, as yet, which is good news. This morning our office in Syria reported the arrival of 20 persons, half of them children, and our mobile teams are now out visiting the border areas of the various countries.