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UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

24 March 2003

UN refugee agency (UNHCR) teams throughout the region are closely watching Iraq's border crossings.

There have been no refugee movements reported in the last 24 hours, with the only arrivals to date the 14 Iraqis who reached Syria yesterday.

This lack of movement towards Iraq's frontiers is not unexpected in these early days of war.

Iraqis are weakened by the collapse of their economy. They may lack the financial means to reach distant frontiers or be too afraid to go far on roads where some civilians have reportedly been hit by bombing. They are perhaps hoping to wait out the conflict in their own homes, with their meagre supplies of food aid and other resources.

What with the grim situation reported in the southern city of Basra, where the electricity is out and water supplies seriously reduced, UNHCR mobile teams based from the south-western Iranian city of Ahwaz are monitoring border crossings from Iraq. Further north along the frontier, a UNHCR team based in Khermanshah is visiting the Khosravi frontier today to check the border, following reports of attacks inside Iraq.

An eight-truck UNHCR convoy of relief items reached Silopi in south-eastern Turkey this morning. Eight thousand mattresses from our regional stockpile at Iskenderun are being unloaded at the Red Crescent warehouse in Silopi. Our mobile teams in Turkey are visiting the border area near Silopi and Cukurca today.

In Syria and Jordan, our staff visited the Abu Kamel and Al Karama crossings, respectively. So far, there are no reports of any refugee movements since the 14 arrivals yesterday at Al Yarubiyah.