More Palestinians fleeing Baghdad arrive at Syrian border
26 Jan 2007 11:00:30 GMT
At least 73 frightened Palestinians have arrived in El Waleed, at the Iraq-Syrian border, after fleeing Baghdad earlier this week following the detention and release of 30 Palestinian men on Tuesday.
Their arrival brings to 593 the number of Palestinians stuck at the Iraq-Syria border, many of them for months. Syria has denied them access and they refuse to return to Baghdad, where Palestinians have been the target of numerous attacks.
UNHCR has not yet had a chance to talk to the newly arrived refugees, who arrived at the border on Wednesday night. Along with ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and other partners, we are ensuring that enough food, water and relief items are on site. Additional tents are also being delivered.
Conditions at the border are atrocious. It’s cold. Clean water has to be trucked in. There is limited access to food. Tents are crowded and unhygienic. Tensions are high. The refugees feel very insecure and some report having been victimized by security officials near the border. The group is in a very vulnerable situation with no solution in sight.
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And there’s this:
IRAQ: UN concerned for persecuted Palestinians
BAGHDAD, 25 Jan 2007 (IRIN) – There is increased international concern about the plight of Palestinians living in Baghdad following the arrest on 16 January of 30 Palestinians by Iraqi security forces in two neighbourhoods of the capital, Baghdad. Although they were released shortly after, the UN is concerned that Palestinians have been systematically targetted and threatened by authorities and militias.
However, despite their release, a group of up to 90 terrified Palestinian men, women and children fled Baghdad on Wednesday heading toward the Syrian border, where the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says more than 500 Palestinians have been stranded for months.
“We are in an exceptional situation as we are in the midst of a major security operation to secure Baghdad. Everyone is subjected to any interrogation from the security directorates,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to disclose security information.
In one incident in Baghdad’s central district of al-Batawyen, interior ministry forces broke doors and windows of a building that is rented by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to house Palestinian refugees and arrested 17 men.
The second incident took place in al-Amin district in the eastern side of the capital. According to UNHCR, 13 Palestinian men were apprehended by men wearing Iraqi security uniforms.
“There was sniper fire against a government building from the rooftop of the al-Batawyen house in which they [the Palestinians] were staying. But police later released them when they found them innocent,” the police officer said. “And the second incident was just to check their legal documents.”
UNHCR said on Wednesday that what happened to the men during their abduction was unclear. The agency said the men and their families were clearly traumatised by the ordeal and afraid to provide any details.
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