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DI Concerned over Refugees on Iraq-Jordan Border

Widad Akrawi
widad@defendinternational.org
2008 / 11 / 28

Defend International voices growing concern over the desperate state of a group of 194 Iranian Kurds, including a large number of children, who are living in a camp in No Man s Land on the Iraqi-Jordanian border for the past three and a half years without access to adequate food, nutrition medical or proper hygiene.

A total of 194 Iranian Kurds had fled Al Tash camp near Ramadi in central Iraq and settled in an unofficial camp in the No Man s Land between Iraq and Jordan for the past three and a half years. Al Tash hosted thousands of Iranian Kurds for more than 20 years, but since the 2003 conflict, residents were facing security incidents, frequent water shortages, and reduced or interrupted services [1]. Located in one of the most insecure areas of Iraq, the camp could only be visited sporadically by aid agencies including UNHCR. They were driven by war to a No Man s Land camp in Jordan.

Letter to UNHCR Headquarters and UNHCR in Jordan

October 2008


Dear Madam or Sir,

Defend International voices growing concern over the desperate state of a group of 194 Iranian Kurds, including a large number of children, who are living in a camp in No Man s Land on the Iraqi-Jordanian border for the past three and a half years without access to adequate food, nutrition medical or proper hygiene.

As you are aware the No Man s Land camp is extremely difficult to access, potentially at considerable physical risk, and is under no state s jurisdiction [2].

Kurdish-Iranian refugees have a long history of suffering. Having left Iran under persecution from the government over 20 years ago, some of them were members of the Kurdish peshmerga militia who fought against fundamentalist Islamic rule and were lucky enough to escape with their lives. Many of them fled to Iraq, where the Iraqi government placed them in the Al-Tash refugee camp, located 80 miles west of Baghdad, which held over 12,000 Iranian Kurds.

After 2003 refugees were threatened by armed groups and had to leave. The refugees at Iraq-Jordan border had been residents of former Al-Tash camp.

Other residents have been moved to different locations. In 2006, the Kurdistan Regional Government approved a proposal to relocate more than one thousand refugees to Kawa camp in Erbil, while thousands others were moved to safer location near Suleimaniyah in northern Iraq. All were helped by the local authorities, UNHCR and its partners to settle in and provide basic services, including food and shelter.

A letter was recently sent to Mr. Daniel Andres, UNHCR Iraq Representative in Baghdad from Dr. Dindar Zebari, Coordinator for UN Affairs in Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government concerning the refugees in No Man s Land camp. Dr. Zebari highlighted that "the KRG already is hosting hundreds [of] thousands of internally displaced persons in addition to a huge backlog of refugees? Hence, it is unpredictable that the No Man s Land Iranian Kurdish refugees get resettled in Kurdistan Region..."

We call on UNHCR to redouble its efforts to persuade states to provide solutions for the refugees in No Man s Land camp.

We would be interested to receive any reports related to this issue and would be happy to keep you informed about developments in No Man s Land camp.


We thank you for your attention to this refugee crisis.

Yours sincerely,

Widad Akrawi
President, Defend International
www.defendinternational.org





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