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UN institutions making preparations in coordination with Turkish Red Crescent, establishing camps in northern Iraq. (scroll down to Second article)
The UN High Commission for Refugess (UNHCR) confirms that preparations are underway for helping Iraqi refugees in case of a war.
The hopes for a peaceful solution of the present conflict between the US and Iraq are visibly fading. Even the UNHCR in Geneva prepares for the eventuality of an US-attack on Iraq, while the UN inspectors are still working there.
Kris Janovsky, press spokesman of the UNHCR confirmed these preparations:
"We are preparing for a war, but that is routine for us", Janovsky said. But Janovsky also stated, that the United Nations have to avoid the impression to have lost the hopes for a peaceful solution. Nevertheless at the UN-headquarters in New York, Geneva and Vienna already quite concrete plans take place, with which number of refugees they have to calculate in case of a war: „We`re working with a number in order to be able to estimate our financial needs", Janovsky said.
"We asked some countries for eleven millions U.S. dollars to carry out the preparations".
Detailed plans to deal with a refugee wave from Iraq are scheduled to be completed in two months from now. In fact the UNHCR initiated these preparations simultaneously at the outset of the the weapons inspections in Iraq in November.
"We`re filling our warehouses in the region, concretely in Istanbul and Cairo, with the necessary equipment for the building of tent cities", Janovsky confirms.
Also the UNHCR-office in Bagdad is involved in these plans. Unlike the 1991 Gulf war, however, the UNHCR does not reckon on a massive fugitive wave out of the Kurdish region. The timetable of operations has not been finalised. At the end of January, the UNHCR will decide in which neighbouring countries of Iraq the refugee camps could be established.
"We also asked the governments of Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to open their borders for Iraqi refugees", Janovsky said.
Copyright http://www.stories-texte.tk/ 2002. (Translated from the German) For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .
Turkey: Possible Refugee Crisis
by Murat Unlu
Turkish Daily News, 29 December 2002
Amid bargaining between the U.S. and Turkey on the scope of Turkey's contribution to a possible war in Iraq, Turkey is preparing for a possible refugee crisis.
Turkey's situation is particularly sensitive due to its position to its neighbour Iraq. The Turkish Government is keen to avoid a repeat of the events of 1991 when an estimated half a million Kurdish refugees fled to the mountains of the border region.
Turkish officials and U.N. officials are discussing a possible refugee crisis nowadays to act together to hamper a massive refugee flow to Turkey, if it is inevitable, to help them effectively.
Turkish Interior Minister Murat Basesgioglu announced in 1994 that if an emergency refugee situation developed, Turkey's borders with Iraq would not be opened, but that humanitarian aid would be extended to centres set up on the Iraqi side of the border. Turkish officials also announced that Turkey may establish a buffer zone in northern Iraq where it will set up refugee camps in the event of an American-led military strike.
There were allegations in the Turkish media last week, that the Turkish Red Crescent was preparing to establish 18 camps, 13 of them in northern Iraq and five in Turkey.
Speaking to Turkish Daily News (TDN) Turkish Red Crescent president Ertan Gonenli said the allegations broadcasted in the Turkish media on the preparations are not true.
"We have package programs according to the scope of the crisis. But the number and places of the camps are not clear yet. There were speculations in the Turkish press, these are not true," said Gonenli.
"We don't know the extent of a possible flow, 'crisis', so, we are preparing some scenarios and package programs," added Gonenli.
The Turkish Red Crescent and U.N. representatives made their last coordination meeting on Friday to make preparations and to compare the capacities of the organizations and to determine the needs of such a type of operation.
Meanwhile on Thursday the Turkish Parliament adopted an act that allocates money for Turkish institutions for such refugee crisis operations.
Foreign countries and the press had criticized Turkey for not intervening in the issue effectively in 1991. It was true that the Kurdish refugee camps remained disorganized for the first few weeks of the crisis and the aid couldn't be distributed effectively, but Turkey never dreamed of facing such a crisis. Turkey tried to do its best during the crisis and derived lessons from it.
During the 1991 crisis the U.N. also lagged behind those of individual allied governments, despite the fact that individual U.N. agencies had developed plans for a refugee crisis.
The U.N. is potentially best suited for planning and coordinating a rapid response to refugee and natural disaster crises. The U.N. International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) already has a vast supplier network, and the U.N. Disaster Relief Organization (UNDRO) and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR) have extensive experience in such crises.
UNHCR spokesman in Turkey, Metin Corabatir told TDN that they were making meetings with Turkish officials to discuss the effective intervention in a possible crisis. "We name these type of activities as 'burden sharing', these are supportive and complementary activities for the governments," recalling establishing camps are under the responsibility of the Turkish government.
"We are conducting different activities, we are trying to ensure the pre-positioning of food and non food items first, and we are also trying to strengthen our operational capabilities," said Corabatir.
"But we need fiscal resources to continue these activities. We are planning to ensure these resources from our donors, we always brief our donors on our preparations. We are trying to assess the extent of a possible refugee crisis. We had announced that we had estimated to spend $ 37.4 million for these preparations," stated Corabatir, adding that the U.N. was working with the Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry and Turkish Red Crescent on the preparations.
Copyright Turkish Daily News 2002. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .