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Palestinians fleeing Baghdad stranded on border

Palestinians fleeing Baghdad remain stranded on Iraqi-Syrian border, UN says

Nearly 190 Palestinians, including four pregnant women and 29 children, are still stranded in no-man's-land on the Iraqi-Syrian border two weeks after they said threats and harassment forced them to flee Baghdad, despite efforts by the United Nations refugee agency to gain them entry into Syria.

“We are continuing our demarches with the Syrian government to allow the Palestinians entry into Syria, but have so far been unsuccessful,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva today.

The 186 Palestinians fled Baghdad for the Tanf border checkpoint after Syria earlier this month accepted a first group of 287 Palestinians, most of whom had been stranded for two months at the Iraqi-Jordanian border. More Palestinians are reportedly still on the Iraqi side of the border also hoping for entry into Syria.

UNHCR has provided all those in no-man’s land with aid items, food, water, and milk for the children. More than 60 tents and several mobile toilets have been put up. One woman who was about to give birth was allowed into Syria so that she could deliver her baby in Damascus. At the border, the Syrian Red Crescent is providing medical help.

The Palestinians who were transported from the Iraqi-Jordanian border to the UNHCR-run El Hol refugee camp earlier this month are doing well and UNHCR has re-opened a day-care centre there for small children and employed a doctor to provide medical care, Ms. Pagomis said.

The security situation for the estimated 24,000 Palestinians still living in Baghdad, seems to have improved a bit in recent weeks, she added. But people are still leaving as the general violence in Iraq continues.

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