Urgent : German relief organisations are condemning deportations to Iraq

News and Press Release
Originally published
Frankfurt and Oberursel, August 26, 2005
Violation of international refugee law

WADI, a relief organisation active in Northern Iraq since 1993, and the Mesopotamian Development Society (Mesop) strongly condem the plans to deport refugees to Northern-Iraq undertaken by the British administration. British officials recently confirmed that refugees from Iraq are being gathered and prepared for forced return to their country since mid of August. This deportation are planned although the security situation at place is still far from being stabile and terrorist attacks take place at a daily basis. No valid predictions exist over the future development in Iraq . Moreover, the deportation contradict the explicit will of the Kurdish regional and the Iraqi government, who both fear an additional social and political destabilisation.

Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdish region in Northern Iraq, consequently condemned the decision of the British Administration to return refugees to Iraq by force. The deportation clearly violates vested rights and undermines international protection standards for refugees to which GB and the EU are bound by contracts.

Wadi and Mesop are refering to a statement of the UNHCR in Britain from August 16, 2005, in which the organisation clearly stated, that no part of Iraq can be considered as save at present. »Both Iraq and Kurdistan can not be considered safe and Kurdish Refugees should not be put at risk by forced removal.« By this, the UNHCR revised a long time advocated judgement that the Kurdish region can be considered as a safe flight alternative in certain cases.

The fact, that terrorist activities are increasingly spreading towards the North are cause to the revision. In view of the still unresolved conflict over the region of Kirkuk -- over which Kurds as well as Turkomen and Arabs claim rights -- the deportation of Kurdish refugees from region is likely to aggravate existing tensions. »Sending back refugees to that region is inhuman and politically irresponsible«, says Thomas Uwer, speaker of Wadi. All European governments warn their citizens not to travel to Iraq due to the unstable security-situation. Only when it comes to refugees, Iraq appears to be safe, Hans Branscheid from Mesop criticises.

Since years, European governments are searching for a way to get rid of its Iraqi refugees. Wadi and Mesop are concerned that other European countries might follow the British example. In Germany , more than 10,000 Iraqi refugees dispose only over a low status forcing them to live in an awkward situation. Immigrant authorities regularly put considerable pressure on these people to force them to a »voluntary« return to Iraq . Wadi fears a copycat effect and asks the German government to clearly refrain from thus plans. »The fact that the British government breaks international refugee law should not encourage German authorities to do the same«, expresses Uwer.

Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, who is coordinating the programme of Wadi in Northern Iraq refers to his experiences that show the will of the majority of the Iraqi refugees to return if the situation at place is safe enough. »Many Iraqis are living for a considerable time in European countries. Europe is the centre of their life. Therefore, the European Union is demanded to develop sustainable political perspectives instead of destroying the personal perspectives of these people.

for Wadi e. V.
Thomas Uwer
Tel: 0049-172-3052691

for Mesop e. V.
Hans Branscheidt
Tel: 0049-177-7321200

WADI e. V.
Herborner Str. 62
D-60439 Frankfurt a. M.
Tel: ++49-69-57002440, Fax: 57002444
Mesopotamische Entwicklungsgesellschaft e. V.
Postbox 35
D-61440 Oberursel
Tel: ++49-6171-74135, Fax: 73269