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Iranian Kurd refugees in central Iraq camp face bleak conditions - UN

30 November 2004, UN News Center - Nearly 3,000 Iranian Kurds in a camp in central Iraq, cut off for the past two weeks from outside help because of fighting in the region, are facing bleak conditions with no water or electricity although food has reached them, the United Nations refugee agency said today.

In the latest of several alerts over conditions in the Al Tash camp near Ramadi, an area where there has been fighting between United States-led forces and insurgents, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the health centre and police post had not been working for the past 10 days.

But on Monday, three people from the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration managed to get into the camp told UNHCR that most of the remaining refugees there wanted to leave because they felt unsafe.

Until earlier this month, Al Tash was home to some 4,200 Iranian Kurd refugees, but about a third fled when fighting flared up in the area, which is about 50 kilometres away from Fallujah, scene of a major United States-led attack.

Because of the difficult security conditions in the area UNHCR's partners there have not been able to enter the camp but food has reached it through the public distribution system, which targets both Iraqi and refugee populations.

Meanwhile the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has launched a multi-million dollar project to ensure that all Iraqi children receive basic educational supplies. It has begun distributing more than 6 million school bags and education kits to children throughout the country.

The $40 million-project has received support from the Governments of Japan, Canada, Denmark and Luxembourg; the European Commission; the Spanish National Committee for UNICEF; and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The kits have appropriate learning materials for children in grades one through four and grades five through nine. Each child will get a school bag, notebooks, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, crayons or geometric sets and a drawing book.

Because of security concerns, UNICEF is sending the bags and the kits directly to the separate eighteen Iraqi governorates and they are being distributed under the auspices of the Iraqi Ministry of Education.

... Payvand News - 12/1/04 ... --

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