Iraq + 2 more

IOM press briefing note 21 Mar 2003: Jordan

AMMAN, JORDAN - Sudanese nationals fleeing Iraq begin journey home - A first group of 140 Sudanese nationals left a transit camp near the Iraqi border this afternoon aboard a convoy of IOM buses on the first leg of their journey home.
They are scheduled to fly out of Amman to Khartoum on an IOM-chartered Royal Jordanian airways flight at midnight local time this evening. Amman to Khartoum is a 3-hour flight.

Another 160 Sudanese who were also scheduled to leave the Ruweished camp today told IOM officials that they were afraid of persecution if they returned home and wanted to remain in the camp, which is located in the desert 50kms from the Iraqi border and 350 km from Amman.

Negotiations between the group, Sudanese embassy officials, the Jordan authorities and concerned international agencies are ongoing.

Officials supervising the IOM shuttle bus service from the border to the transit camp say that the future of this group needs to be resolved quickly, as more arrivals are expected and the camp has very limited resources and few amenities.

Last night a further 120 people arrived at the camp, which is run by the Jordanian Red Crescent and IOM, and is reserved for third country nationals (TCNs) transiting Jordan.

If Iraqi refugees arrive at the border, IOM buses will transport them to a nearby separate camp run by UNHCR and the Hashemite Charitable Society.

Last night's arrivals bring the number of TCN arrivals at the border since Wednesday to 470. The majority have been Sudanese, but other nationalities include Egyptians, Yemenis, Somalis, Chadians and Eritreans.

IOM has two doctors and four nurses working in the camp, who report that a number of arrivals are suffering from respiratory infections and exhaustion.

The 140 Sudanese who left the camp this afternoon underwent IOM medical screening this morning to ensure that they were fit to travel.