UN plea over Palestinian refugees (BBC) By Dale Gavlak BBC, Amman 11/28/03 23:57 GMT)
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The United Nations has called for hundreds of Palestinian refugees
stranded on Jordan´s desert border with Iraq to be housed.
The organisation´s refugee agency, UNHCR, made the plea to Jordan,
Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The agency says the refugees, stuck in a no-man´s land since April,
are unable to cope with freezing winter temperatures.
Jordan says it plans to shut down the refugee camp by the end of the
Since the US-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein, about 1,800 people
fled Iraq and have been living in refugee camps in eastern Jordan.
The UNHCR says the largest number of residents at the camp,
straddling Jordan´s border with Iraq, are some 500 Iranian ethnic
Kurds. They are expected to be able to return eventually to Iran or
find shelter in northern Iraq.
But it says housing must soon be found for 427 Palestinian refugees
living in the tent camp who fled the war in Iraq.
Under Saddam Hussein´s regime they received preferential treatment,
including subsidised housing.
The UNHCR says it believes it would not be appropriate for the
Palestinians to return to Iraq because they were treated badly by
Iraqis after Saddam´s downfall.
It says the Palestinians have expressed a readiness to go to the West
Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as to Israel.
Last August, Jordan accepted 386 Palestinians from the camp into the
country because they were married to Jordanians.
But the UNHCR says Jordan´s capacity to absorb more refugees is
reaching its limits, as it already hosts the world´s largest number
of Palestinian refugees.
(© BBC MMIII 11/28/03)
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