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UNHCR calls for cooperation and solidarity amid efforts to find solutions for the residents of Camp "New Iraq"

Press Releases, 26 July 2012

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) called today for cooperation, patience and understanding of all parties involved in efforts to find solutions for the residents of the Camp "New Iraq" (formerly camp Ashraf) north of Iraqi capital Baghdad. Protection and solutions for some 3,200 current and former residents of the camp are the primary objectives of efforts led by the United Nations to close the camp peacefully and resolve the situation of its residents.

UNHCR is currently assessing individual protection needs of former residents of Camp New Iraq once they are transferred to Hurriya (Liberty) transit centre. "Status determination, however, does not in itself resolve things," said UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Ms. Erika Feller, on return recently from Baghdad. "It must be accompanied by efforts from all concerned, in good faith and in a spirit of international solidarity, to offer resettlement solutions and, in the interim, to assist people to stay safely and decently until such solutions can be materialized".

UNHCR also reiterates its calls to States to respond in a timely manner by allowing for readmission of individuals having had previous links with them or by offering resettlement places or other forms of humanitarian admission. It is hoped that, consistent with its long-standing tradition of generosity and hospitality, the Government of Iraq will maintain the asylum option in Iraq pending realization of solutions for these individuals. UNHCR also appeals to States for financial support including for the host country to meet costs associated with transferring, hosting, housing, assisting and processing the cases of these individuals until solutions have been found.

Former Camp Ashraf has been in existence since the mid-80s. Most of its residents are of Iranian origin. Following a decision by the government of Iraq to close the camp, UNHCR, together with UNAMI has been working on solutions for its population. Those found to be in need of international protection may have the possibility of being resettled to another country. Concerted efforts by the United Nations are being made to resolve the situation of other camp residents in a safe and peaceful way.

There are currently 1,938 individuals in Hurriya transit center. Another 1,286 individuals are still in camp New Iraq, awaiting transfer to the Hurriya transit centre.

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Crisis in Iraq: Displacement

UNHCR and its partners estimate that out of a total population of 26 million, some 1.9 million Iraqis are currently displaced internally and more than 2 million others have fled to nearby countries. While many people were displaced before 2003, increasing numbers of Iraqis are now fleeing escalating sectarian, ethnic and general violence. Since January 2006, UNHCR estimates that more than 800,000 Iraqis have been uprooted and that 40,000 to 50,000 continue to flee their homes every month. UNHCR anticipates there will be approximately 2.3 million internally displaced people within Iraq by the end of 2007. The refugee agency and its partners have provided emergency assistance, shelter and legal aid to displaced Iraqis where security has allowed.

In January 2007, UNHCR launched an initial appeal for US$60 million to fund its Iraq programme. Despite security issues for humanitarian workers inside the country, UNHCR and partners hope to continue helping up to 250,000 of the most vulnerable internally displaced Iraqis and their host communities

Posted on 12 June 2007

Crisis in Iraq: Displacement

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

After Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in Iraq in 2003, groups of refugees who had lived in the country for many years tried to leave the chaos and lawlessness that soon ensued. Hundreds of people started fleeing to the border with Jordan, including Palestinians in Baghdad and Iranian Kurds from the Al Tash refugee camp in central Iraq.

Aside from a few Palestinians with family connections inside the neighbouring country, the refugees were refused entry and free movement in Jordan. Thousands were soon stranded in the no-man's land between Iraq and Jordan or at the desert camp of Ruweished, located 60 kilometres inside Jordan.

Since 2003, Palestinians, Iranian Kurds, Iranians, Sudanese and Somalis have been living there and suffering the scorching heat and freezing winters of the Jordanian desert. UNHCR and its partners have provided housing and assistance and tried to find solutions – the agency has helped resettle more than 1,000 people in third countries. At the beginning of 2007, a total of 119 people – mostly Palestinians – remained in Ruweished camp without any immediate solution in sight.

Posted on 20 February 2007

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

The UN refugee agency has launched a US$60 million appeal to fund its work helping hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people. The new appeal concludes that unremitting violence in Iraq will likely mean continued mass internal and external displacement affecting much of the surrounding region. The appeal notes that the current exodus is the largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948.

UNHCR has warned that the longer this conflict goes on, the more difficult it will become for the hundreds of thousands of displaced and the communities that are trying to help them – both inside and outside Iraq. Because the burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous, it is essential that the international community support humanitarian efforts.

The US$60 million will cover UNHCR's protection and assistance programmes for Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey, as well as non-Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people within Iraq itself.

Posted on 10 January 2007

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