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Iraq: situation of Al Tash camp Kurds extremely serious

Briefing notes

Iraq: situation of Al Tash camp Kurds extremely serious

26 November 2004

UNHCR remains extremely concerned about the fate of nearly 4,200 Iranian Kurd refugees from Al Tash camp near Ramadi, some fifty kilometres from Fallujah. UNHCR, which has no staff on the ground, has been informed by our implementing partner in Al Tash that access to the camp is currently not possible because of the very difficult security conditions in the area.

Some 1,400 refugees fled Al Tash last week amid generalised fighting around Ramadi, including an attack by armed men against the police post inside the camp. The police station is now empty, and there is no one to provide security for the remaining 2,800 refugees we think are still in Al Tash. Furthermore, these refugees will not have received their monthly food ration since the public distribution system, which targets both Iraqis and refugees in the area, has broken down because of the fighting. This is an extremely serious situation, and UNHCR is working with its implementing partner to find a way of accessing the camp as a matter of urgency.

Of the 1,400 Iranian Kurds who fled Al Tash last week, 13 families have arrived in Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq. One of our Iraqi staff in the region is interviewing them, to establish their needs and get more information about what happened in Al Tash. The fate of all the others who left the camp remains unknown.

In a separate development, a total of 202 Iranian Kurd refugees left Amman for a new life in Sweden on Wednesday, after spending over a year and a half in the no man's land between Iraq and Jordan. They are part of a group of 384 Iranian Kurds that Sweden has accepted for resettlement. The rest of the group will leave Jordan early next month. However, there are still almost 650 people stuck in no man's land, and UNHCR continues to advocate and lobby for resettlement of this group.