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UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

UN Humanitarian Briefing on Iraq

22 March 2003

Throughout the region, UNHCR has dispatched experienced emergency officers to monitor borders, establish offices, and to strengthen our existing operations.

In Jordan, UNHCR now has eight staff based at Ruwaished and the Al Karama border crossing. The Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organisation/UNHCR camp at Ruwaished can now accommodate up to 2,000 refugees. So far, 200 tents have been erected and workers have installed 80 flush latrines. The camp's water system will be ready by tomorrow, including showers. Earthworks are also underway for latrines. Five metric tons of high energy biscuits and 1,000 ready-to-eat rations supplied by German Agro Action are in stock, and WFP food rations are available on request.

UNHCR's border team present at Al Karama is going into the no-man's-land within several hundred metres of Iraq's Trebil frontier post. There are no Iraqi refugees in the border area. Thirteen people, mostly dual nationals, remain at the border holding centre while their cases are resolved.

In Iran, today we sent two international staff from Tehran to strengthen our existing office at Orumiyeh, in north-western Iran. In all, we've sent nine additional staff to our three offices in western Iran to monitor borders and the construction of four of the Iranian government's ten planned refugee camps.

UNHCR mobile field teams in Turkey are operating in the border region. Yesterday they visited the western sector of the frontier and spoke with residents in five border villages, travelling up to the Uludere gate. Uludere is the crossing where the majority of the Iraqi refugees arrived in 1991, when some 500,000 Iraqis fled into Turkey or to makeshift encampments along the frontier. Another field team also travelled to Hakkari. There are so far no Iraqis approaching that frontier.

Our representative In Syria is meeting with the governor of Hassake Province today to discuss arrangements to receive Iraqi refugees. The government has agreed that the El Hol camp can be used for Iraqis, and that sites can be established near two of the main entry points from Iraq. We have no reports of any refugee arrivals at that frontier.