Floods Hit Refugees In Iraq-Syria Border Camps
Floods hit Palestinian refugees stuck in Iraq-Syria border camps – UN
30 October 2008 – The United Nations refugee agency today urged the international community to offer resettlement to desperate Palestinian refugees trapped in camps on the Iraq-Syria border, as it rushed emergency aid to hundreds after heavy rain and flooding caused chaos and misery.
Tuesday night’s rainstorms struck some 800 refugees, inundating tents with water and sewage, soaking possessions and cutting off electricity at the Al Tanf refugee camp, in the narrow strip of no-man’s land between Iraq and Syria.
“This is the closest to hell I can imagine,” said Mutassem Hayatla, a UNHCR field officer who stayed in the camp during the downpour.
“With no electricity, the camp was full of the sound of crying, terrified children. We did our best, but it was a blessing when the night was over,” he added.
The storms made some 100 families homeless in a nearby camp, which shelters around 1,400 refugees just inside Iraq, after their tents were destroyed by the rain. UNHCR reported difficulty in providing assistance to the Al Waleed camp because of dangerous security conditions.
The UNHCR office in Syrian capital, Damascus, was able to send new tents, plastic sheeting, blankets and mattresses to the Al Tanf camp today, and the worst affected families and elderly Palestinians were moved to the camp school and a clinic.
Two children from the camp were killed by trucks, thundering past on the Baghdad-Damascus highway – which runs beside the camp – and throwing up waves of water onto the nearest tents.
In Al Waleed UNHCR staff said the camp had become a muddy quagmire, where tents had been swept away in the flood, the sewage system had overflowed and people were becoming sick.
UNHCR reiterated its appeal to the international community to provide resettlement places for Palestinians from Iraq, some of whom have lived in the Al Tanf camp for three years with no other option open to them.
“We urge more countries to open their doors to resettle the Palestinian refugees and bring their precarious situation to an end,” said UNHCR representative in Iraq, Daniel Endres.