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UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

26 March 2003

There have been no substantial refugee arrivals anywhere in the region.

In Syria, our border teams are continuing to monitor border crossing points, which are so far quiet. We have seen a rise in the number of Iraqis approaching our Damascus office. Most seem to have arrived in Syria in the past three weeks, rather than since the start of the war.

Heavy winds in eastern Jordan have forced us to dismantle some of the tents erected at Ruwaished. It has been horribly windy out there today, even part of the telecommunications network is down. Our staff have nevertheless been up to the Al Karama border several times today, which is quiet.

Yesterday, one of our mobile monitoring teams in Turkey was stranded between Batman and Bitlis following two avalanches that blocked the road. The staff recovered their car today and are now near Van. A second team that was similarly stuck yesterday near Hakkari due to weather conditions is moving to Cukurca today. Our third mobile team is operating in the Silopi region. All four-person teams travel through Turkey's border area, visiting villages to inquire about any possible refugee movements.

In Iran, a UNHCR team from Kermanshah today went to the Iranian border area near the Iraqi town of Penjwin. The team will look into ICRC reports that some 22,000 Iraqis had moved to this town near Iran's border province of Kurdistan. ICRC's report indicated these displaced Iraqis were mainly from Sulaimaniyeh and Kirkuk in northern Iraq. They were reported to be in mosques, schools and houses of relatives and friends. Iranian officials told UNHCR in Kermanshah the people in Penjwin had neither requested assistance nor attempted to cross the border.