UN voices ‘extreme concern’ for thousands of Iranian Kurd refugees in Iraq

UN voices ‘extreme concern’ for thousands of Iranian Kurd refugees in Iraq

Iranian Kurd refugees
For the second time in a week the United Nations refugee agency today expressed “extreme concern” over the fate of thousands of Iranian Kurds caught up in the fighting in central Iraq without access to regular food rations.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said 1,400 of the 4,200 Iranian Kurds in Al Tash camp near Ramadi fled last week amid generalized fighting, including an armed attack against the camp police post, and with the station now empty there was no one left to provide security for the remaining 2,800.

"This is an extremely serious situation, and UNHCR is working with its implementing partner to find a way of accessing the camp as a matter of urgency," spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva.

The agency, which has no staff on the ground, has been informed by its partners in Al Tash that access is currently impossible due to the “very difficult security conditions” in the area. Ramadi is some 50 kilometres from Fallujah where United States-led forces launched a major assault earlier this month.

“These refugees will not have received their monthly food ration since the public distribution system, which targets both Iraqis and refugees in the area, has broken down because of the fighting,” Ms. Pagonis said.

Of the 1,400 who fled last week, 13 families have arrived in Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq, but the fate of all the others who left the camp remains unknown, she added.