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UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

6 April 2003

Despite reports of heavy fighting around the Iraqi capital and scenes of desperate people leaving the city, there have been no significant refugee movements into neighbouring countries.

We've had reports this morning of explosions in the vicinity of Syria's Abu Kamal border crossing, which lies along the Euphrates river. We immediately asked the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which handles transport from the border transit site, to move three Iraqis who arrived on Saturday away from the area. The three refugees, together with several third country nationals, are currently on their way to Syria's Al Hawl refugee camp. The explosions this morning reportedly took place about a kilometre inside Iraq, about three km away from the transit site.

Meanwhile, we're concerned about delays in the processing of asylum claims at Jordan's Al Karama border. Jordan is generously accommodating 33 Palestinian refugees who arrived over recent weeks from Iraq. All holders of laissez passers, they are in the Red Crescent/IOM camp for third country nationals while solutions for them are being sought.

It is the humanitarian duty of all countries to admit people seeking asylum. The refugee camp at Ruwaished is ready to accommodate any refugee fleeing the war in Iraq. We've also had word that some Iraqis residing in Amman have reportedly been deported. UNHCR has asked all governments to provide temporary protection to Iraqis. No one should be returned to Iraq during wartime against their will.