Iraq's forgotten refugees

Sudanese refugees are stuck in northern Iraq, the victims of two wars.

by

    The Sudanese refugees have been forced endure
    harsh desert conditions for more than two years
    Hundreds of Sudanese refugees stranded in no man's land in Iraq's western desert are calling on the international community for help.

    Many of them are from the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan. James Bays travelled to meet the people trapped between two wars.


    If you travel along the main road from Baghdad towards Jordan and Syria across Iraq's western desert; in the middle of nowhere, miles from any other settlement, you find a camp.

    It is home to some of the most unfortunate people in this troubled country.

    Most of them came to Iraq from Sudan years ago as workers during the time of Saddam Hussein's rule.

    They have been forced to endure hot and harsh desert conditions for more than two years after fleeing fighting in the capital Baghdad.

    Now they have no jobs and nowhere to go.

    "Militias in Baghdad kicked us out. We received threat letters claiming we are followers of Saddam Hussein. We were threatened with murder," one of the refugees told Al Jazeera.

    "
    We have been here since 2005. Until now, there is no solution to our miserable conditions. Our children have not been to school for three years."

    War zones

    What makes things particularly difficult is that these people say they cannot go home - because home for most of them is another war zone, Darfur.

    "We are victims of the two wars, the war here and the war in Darfur"

    "We were suffering here in Iraq, and we have our problems at home in Darfur," one of the women said.

    "We are victims of the two wars, the war here and the war in Darfur. We came to this area but here our stituation is not normal. We have nothing here, we are all sick and our children are sick."

    Kahin Ismail, the United Nations protection officer dealing with the case, is based across the border in Jordan because of safety concerns.

    He said he knows exactly where they Sudanese refugees are, and is trying to persuade another country to take them in.

    ''We have been working in the last two years to find a durable solution for this group, we have approached a number of countries to consider them for resettlement and we have received some positive indications from one of the countries that they would consider them for resettlement.'' he said.

    While the local provinicial council handed out some money to the refugees, the group pleaded with Al Jazeera's cameraman to let the world know about their plight.

    They said they feel abandoned and have little hope left.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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