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Iraq: Palestinians stuck at border fleeing Baghdad

Iraq: More Palestinians stuck at border after fleeing Baghdad, UN agency says

Insecurity in Baghdad and death threats have prompted 35 more Palestinians to flee to Iraq's border with Jordan where they are stuck with nearly 100 previous arrivals in deteriorating conditions, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) reported today.

“The situation at Trebil border point is not good at all, and the sanitary conditions are very bad. Food and water are in short supply,” UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said in Geneva.

“Border officials have covered some of the shortages, but this is becoming an increasing burden due to limited resources at the checkpoint,” Mr. Spindler added, saying that a non-governmental organization (NGO) was able to deliver some supplies yesterday.

UNHCR said the Palestinians are afraid to leave their homes because of ongoing intimidation and attacks, with many incidents of harassment, kidnapping, beatings and killings reported over the past few months.

But the agency has not yet received a reply to a letter High Commissioner António Guterres sent mid-March to President Jalal Talibani asking for increased security and legal protection for refugees in Iraq. “Nor have we been able to arrange a meeting with Iraqi officials to discuss the plight of the Palestinians in Iraq,” said Mr. Spindler.

There are an estimated 34,000 Palestinians in Iraq of whom 23,000 have been registered by UNHCR in Baghdad. They came to Iraq in three main waves - in 1948 on the creation of Israel, in 1967 after the six-day war and in 1991 after the Gulf War.

They were provided with protection and assistance by the former regime and enjoyed a relatively high standard of treatment that some segments of Iraqi society considered unfair, according to UNHCR.

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