Update 15: Iraqi Refugee Returns/Syrian Refugees, 4 August 2012
Iraqi return figures dropped to total 267 arrivals on 3 August, recording a 50% decline compared to 2 August returns. Al-Qa'im border point saw the lowest number of 11 returnee arrivals while Rabi'aa and Al-Waleed observed 75 and 181 returns respectively. Since 18 July 2012, a total of 21,434 Iraqis returned from Syria, among them 5,222 Iraqis who returned by air.
Returnees interviewed by UNHCR teams at the border reported intense fighting still raging between the opposition free army and the government troops, preventing many Iraqi families, mostly in Damascus, from risking the trip back home.
An equally low number of 35 Syrian arrivals was recorded, mainly through Al-Qa'im border crossing which has alone received 3,440 Syrian refugees since 21 July. This brings the total number of Syrians who have crossed the three border points since the outbreak of Syrian violence to 3,447. Another 9,053 Syrian refugees are in Kurdistan, making up a grand total of 12,500 Syrian refugees across Iraq.
With only 10% covered by the present sponsorship programme, Syrians may opt not to come to Iraq where they might be denied free movement. The Government is yet to respond to a request from local authorities in Al-Qa'im to include the second and third-kin relatives in the programme.
UNHCR Protection team today registered 79 more Syrian families (374 individuals) in Al-Qa'im. A total of 283 Syrian families (1,372 individuals) has been registered so far.
Among those registered were two Syrian families that arrived in Al-Qa'im yesterday, coming from Al-Waleed. They have now been accommodated at the health centre in Karabla district.
As agreed with Al-Qa'im Emergency Cell, registered Syrians are provided with a copy of the refugee card per family rather than per individual.
UNHCR team in Al-Qa'im has learnt from security sources that there are 50 other Syrian families (250 individuals) in Rawa town, Ramadi, some staying at school and others with relatives. The local authorities have requested UNHCR to register these families and provide them with refugee cards.
There have been reports of a Syrian soldier in police custody in Al-Qa'im after being detained by Iraqi army for entering Iraq illegally through Al-Qa'im district. The soldier is to be referred to a court in Ramadi to face trial.
A network of coordination established with the Emergency Cell across Anbar has enabled UNHCR to receive regular updates from the authorities on the in and out movement of Iraqis and Syrians across the border.
At the camp site, the ground leveling and compacting have completed today and construction of the sanitation units, manholes and septic tanks has started. One hundred and eighty-five tents have so far been installed at the location. Preparation of the site plan and layout for the second camp location is under way.