Posted by Sadie from ? (220.127.116.11) on Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 11:59AM :
UN agencies push on with relief work in Iraq
Report, United Nations
20 May 2003
United Nations relief agencies continued to step up their activities in Iraq today, both from the overall standpoint of general coordination and from the more specific focus of settling special issues.
The top UN relief official in Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, met with representatives of non-government organizations in Baghdad as part of the UN's continued efforts to coordinate activity in the humanitarian field.
Mr. Lopes da Silva, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, has already met with top US civilian authorities in Iraq and the heads of the UN specialized agencies as part of his efforts to bring humanitarian efforts up to full speed following the war.
For its part, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is trying to resolve the issue of up to 1,000 Iranians who left their long-time refugee settlements in eastern Iraq because of security problems and looting in late April and have since been waiting in makeshift border camps for the green light from Iran to cross home.
"We have asked the Islamic Republic of Iran to permit these anxious refugees to cross homewards as soon as possible," UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.
"While we are awaiting a definitive reply from Tehran on when they will be allowed to re-enter Iran, there are indications following discussions this morning with BAFIA, Iran's refugee agency, that Tehran may repatriate these refugees later this week. Our staff based in Basra, in southern Iraq, are on stand-by to help assist this return movement," he added.
More than 4,500 of the 23,000 Iranian refugees residing in Iraq had previously been cleared by the Iranian Government to return home. Some of them are among those waiting at the border.
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