In the north, the number of people returning to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah is increasing and shops re-opening. Migration has continued from Dahuk.
Distribution of food stocks still held in WFP warehouses is continuing.
2 HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN IRAQ
2.1 AFFECTED POPULATIONS
Between 13 and 21 March, the total number of registered arrivals in the northern governorates from the Government of Iraq controlled areas is 4,961 with a breakdown as follows: 2,194 (Erbil), 517 (Dahuk) and 2,250 (Sulaymaniyah). Many IDPs have declined to register.
2.2 OPERATIONAL ISSUES
2.2.1 NORTH (Erbil, Dahuk, Sulaymaniyah)
The number of families, who fled from Erbil and settled along the main road from Khlaifan to Haji Omaran near the Iranian border, has decreased. Some returned home, others have found accommodation with relatives. Around 100 families remain but they are not in immediate need of relief assistance.
People continue to arrive in Soran district, north of Erbil, but in declining numbers. They are housed in eight schools. For those who arrived without basic items, blankets, kerosene and other relief items have been provided. 150 people require food assistance. This is being addressed, as well as the power requirements. WFP agreed with the mayor of Soran to send monitors to register the IDPs located in the schools. It was agreed with the LAs to register only the people who fled from the Centre/South at this stage. Hence, 60 families originating mainly from Kirkuk have been registered.
LAs have identified locations for two camps--Delizian in Soran district and Ashkastawan in Mergasoor, north of Erbil governorate, which can hold 8,000 and 1,572 tents respectively. Preparations for the Delizian camp continue. 141 of the 200 tents are already in place. Water and sanitation work will start tomorrow. Work on Ashkawtawan camp will start tomorrow. In Sulaymaniyah, work will start as soon as weather conditions permit on a new camp in Bazyan for people from Kirkuk. The provision of shelter at Bagera camp, 30 kilometres north-east of Dahuk city continues.
The general food distribution for June/July 2003 under the Oil-for-Food programme has not yet been completed in Erbil governorate. Since there is no more food arriving, WFP will use remaining stocks to complete the June/July distribution in Soran district in order to support families who host relatives from other areas/governorates. However, the food distribution will also depend on the availability of the food agents.
The two hydro-electric plants are functioning and the LAs in Sulaimaniyah and Erbil are operating the UNDP constructed 29Mw power plants. Dahuk continues to receive unlimited power from Mosul.
Four trucks have been made available by the LAs for transporting and pre-positioning NFIs. The LAs requested that water tankers delivered through the Oil for food programme (OFFP) be used in areas affected by shortages of potable water throughout the northern governorates. The current rate of deliveries needs to increase in Soran due to the increase in people. Many houses now host two families. UNOPS will undertake an assessment of water needs in the area. UNDP is providing emergency power to the water pumping station in Aqra.
2.2.2 ELSEWHERE IN IRAQ
The US government announced that $22 million has been authorized from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, to be used for emergency aid to Iraqi refugees in the event that a humanitarian crisis develops in the Middle East as a result of coalition military force used against Iraq.
The European Commission (EC) announced that of 22 million Euros to be released for humanitarian aid, 3 million euros will be disbursed immediately to provide emergency relief to 75,000 IDPs through the ICRC.
3 HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES
The first transfers of TCNs start today. A charter plane carrying 147 Sudanese on board will leave Amman for Khartoum and a convoy carrying 22 Egyptians will leave Camp B to Aqaba en route to Egypt.
UNICEF has secured accommodation for teachers in Ruwesheid as part of the education response for Iraqi refugees.
As of 8 a.m. there were no new arrivals at the border. There are currently 17 people in a holding area waiting for their documentation to be processed. There is no information on whether people are being sent back from the border.
There are currently no people at Camp A, which is assigned to refugees. Japan Platform is set-up to provide primary health care and UNFPA provided reproductive health kits. UNICEF has set-up a health clinic for women and children. There are 200 tents and latrines for up to 5000 people. The water distribution system will be completed in 48 hours. The WFP Rubb-Hall (large tent) will be ready to act as an Emergency Distribution Point (EDP) by Sunday at the latest.
Close to the Iraqi border at Camp B for TCNs there are 450 people. Bread will be distributed for the first time today and 250 kg of High Energy Biscuits have been made available for distribution from Camp A. A generator will be purchased or rented as soon as possible to provide electricity. IOM has requested a Rubb-Hall from UNHCR.
All deliveries of WFP food to Iraq from Turkey are on hold. UN agencies are refraining for the moment from sending goods across until the security situation becomes clearer. In addition, the absence of customs officials on the Iraqi side might have technical/legal implications for the registration of the goods as they enter Iraq. Habur Gate is not officially closed, with the Turkish MFA representative in Diyarbakir reporting that it is closed only from the Iraqi side.
The Government of Turkey and Turkish Red Crescent Society (TRCS) are preparing three camps inside Turkey near the towns of Silopi, Cukurca and Uzumlu along the border. Work has begun on the Silopi site, which will have a capacity of 10,000 persons and is situated near the Habur Gate border crossing. Site selection in Cukurca, where refugees arrived in 1991, and in Uzumlu is under way, but has been hampered by snow. Each of the latter sites will have an initial capacity of 3,000 to 5,000 persons.
The Deputy Governor of Diyarbakir and the TRCS have announced plans to hold twice weekly coordination meetings in Silopi with UN agencies.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Starting today, UNHCR will hold daily press briefings in Silopi at 11:30 local time
4 SECTORAL FOCUS - EDUCATION
Planning meetings are under way amongst members of the Task Force for Education. Core members include UNICEF, UNESCO, UNHCR, WFP, IRC and NRC. Sector Focal Points have been appointed in most of the surrounding countries, facilitating communication
A mapping exercise identifying NGOs with appropriate skills is ongoing. So far, there are NGOs with experience in the psychosocial area and experience of training of trainers and teachers, rehabilitation of schools. More discussion is needed with education and program staff who have come out of Iraq, to develop a common understanding of the likely gaps and what type of expertise is required in potential partners. One of the constraints that has been identified is the limited number of experienced NGOs in the education sector and particularly in education in Iraq and the surrounding countries.
UNESCO is involved in the Flash Appeal effort with a view to supporting secondary as well as primary level education.
Access is limited to refugee and TCN camps rules in Jordan. There seems to be active and good planning in Jordan, however, to offer education and psychosocial activities for children and adolescents in the refugee camp.
The issue of the use of home country curriculum, language and teachers as indicated above, is a human rights issue as well (see below)
ISSUES REQUIRING FOLLOW UP
Curriculum issue for refugees. This has been brought to the attention of the HCI for action at an appropriate level in Jordan and Syria, perhaps also in Iran
Remuneration of teachers/persons in the education sector in refugee and IDP camps in particular. This has been brought to the attention of the country Focal Points for Education, to ensure fair practices across the sectors
Use of schools for other purposes. This has also been shared with the country Focal Points and will be discussed with Iraq representatives in particular. If conditions allow schools to function, they should not be used for shelter and storage etc
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
A Coordinator for the Education Sector has been selected, to follow up the work of the temporary one. He should be in place on Sunday, to allow some overlapping.
5 HQ ISSUES/ DEVELOPMENTS
The Secretary General wrote a letter to the Security Council requesting access to the remaining funds under the Oil-for-Food Programme. Experts are discussing how the programme can be adjusted to purchase food and other emergency relief supplies.
6 ANY OTHER MATTERS
Reportedly, a number of oil wells in southern Iraq are on fire. Those fires erupted in Iraq's valuable Rumeila South field, 80 kilometres west of Basra, and just north of the Kuwaiti border. Rumeila South is one of Iraq's largest fields, with more than 5 billion barrels held in reserves. It lies near a similar-sized field called Rumeila North.
According to some reports, the southern Iraqi oil fields have already been captured, and action has been initiated to put fires out.
OCHA ESB Environmental Emergencies Section is monitoring actual/potential environmental accidents in Iraq and surrounding countries, with a view to mobilizing and coordinating specialized international assistance, if so requested.
UNEP is working on contingency planning in case of oil spills.