UNHCR warns that chaos in Iraq could cause more displacement
AMMAN, Jordan (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency has warned that the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Baghdad and the collapse of police authority could result in revenge attacks and ethnic violence that could drive Iraqis from their homes.
"Iraq's internal situation is volatile, as growing chaos and the ongoing war bring new dangers to the civilian population," said UNHCR spokesman Peter Kessler at a press briefing in Amman, Jordan, on Thursday. "Looting and lawlessness appear to be rampant in many areas of Iraq, and the current security vacuum and uncertainty is prompting some people to flee."
He urged, "There is an immediate need for the occupying forces to maintain law and order and to ensure that people who need humanitarian aid have access to such assistance. It is also vital that anyone who feels unsafe be able to reach neighbouring countries."
Between Wednesday and Thursday, more than 100 Iraqis and other third country nationals crossed into Syria at the Al Tanf border. They included 27 Palestinians, 24 Sudanese, and some 50 persons from mixed marriages. Most were moved to the Al Tanf transit centre.
UNHCR has been discussing with UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) and the Syrian government on how best to assist the Palestinians, who were temporarily shifted to El Hol camp, where more than 50 Iraqis are currently sheltered.
Jordan saw no refugee arrivals overnight after admitting several in the last few days.
No refugees have arrived in Iran either, although Iranian authorities reported that some 1,500 Iraqis who fled Baghdad on Wednesday had reached the Iraqi town of Badre, 6 km from Mehran in Iran's western province of Ilam. Iran's Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants (BAFIA) said 150 people from this group went to the Mehran border to request assistance and were provided with food. The Iranian officials said, however, that these Iraqis did not seek entry into Iran.