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UN Appeals For Resettlement Of Stranded Kurds

UN Appeals For Resettlement Of Stranded Kurd Refugees 18 Months After Iraq War

The United Nations refugee agency today appealed for other countries to grant resettlement to some 900 mostly Iranian Kurd or Palestinian refugees who have been marooned for the past 18 months in no-man's-land between Iraq and Jordan or in a nearby camp and now face another winter of freezing temperatures in tents.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) noted that 185 Iranian Kurd refugees arrived in Sweden on Thursday to join another 202 Iranian Kurds who landed in Stockholm two weeks ago after months of agency efforts to secure their permanent resettlement after they fled the war in Iraq in the spring of 2003.

“However, the refugee agency wants to draw attention to the plight of some 900 hundred refugees who remain near the Jordanian border – 760 of them still in the no-man's-land, another 130 in Ruweished camp inside Jordan,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva.

“In both locations, refugees have been living under very harsh conditions since the spring of 2003, staying under tents in a desert area subject to extreme climatic variations. They now face a second winter of freezing temperatures with no immediate solution in sight,” she added.

Most of the refugees had previously been in exile in Iraq but fled to escape the fighting and unrest last year. Since then, UNHCR has submitted 880 cases for resettlement to such nations as the United States, Australia and the Scandinavian countries but some 500 of these requests are still pending, Ms. Pagonis said.

The agency also asked many Arab countries to grant shelter, even on a temporary basis, to the Palestinians stuck at the Jordanian border. Last year, Jordan itself granted temporary asylum to 386 Palestinians with Jordanian spouses while 250 Palestinians chose to leave Ruweished to go back to Iraq.

“The refugee agency has undertaken to assist countries with the financial cost of hosting Palestinian refugees and we hope for a positive reaction from Arab states,” Ms. Pagonis said.

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