Third-country nationals in border protest

Iranian third country nationals who say they are being denied entry into Jordanian territory from the no-man’s-land between Iraq and Jordan staged protests near the border for the third day running on Monday.

On Sunday morning, about 200 men and male adolescents sitting at the entrance to the camp in no-man's-land were displaying placards, Rick Neal, the public health promotion officer working in the camp with Oxfam, told IRIN. They said they would continue with their action for a further 10 days.

"The basic message is to impress on the Jordanian government to let them in and process their resettlement claims," he said, "and that they don't want to be forgotten, as they were when they fled Iran in 1979."

The vast majority of the 1,000 people currently in no-man's-land are Iranian Kurds who fled central Iraq's Al Tash refugee camp in the last week to escape the chaos and lawlessness that erupted in their communities as Saddam's government collapsed. Before the war, Al Tash sheltered more than 12,000 Iranian Kurdish refugees, many of whom had lived at the camp for two decades.

The placards on Sunday carried messages such as "Humanitarian organisations come, we need your help" and "We ask UNHCR to respond to our requests as soon as possible". On Saturday morning about 300 people, including women and children, had staged a similar protest for several hours.

The UNHCR spokesman, Peter Kessler, told IRIN that the group of Iranians were obviously "very frustrated", which, he said, was "understandable". "We would like to see the occupying forces in Iraq ensuring security in the Al-Tash camp," he added, noting that there were a further 11,000 Iranian Kurds who were believed to have remained there.

"Obviously if there are people who have fled for their lives, they should be interviewed and brought to a safe place," he added.

Apart from the Iranian Kurds in no-man's-land, there were 41 other Iranians and about the same number of Iraqis, said Kessler. The Jordanian authorities had allowed about 540 people, most of them Palestinians married to Jordanians, cross the border into a nearby camp in Ruwayshid, he said.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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