Iraq + 1 more

War in Iraq - Update 24 Mar 2003

Caritas Iraq:
Al Jazeera news showed that as a result of the bombardment of Basrah over 75 civilians were killed and about 300 were wounded. The infrastructure is damaged, there is no electricity and water in the city. Since we could not get in through to our center there, we do not know how the situation is.

Heavy bombardment took place over Baghdad and Mosul, especially in the outskirts and the christian villages in preparation for an American landing in the area.

Movement of civilian families continue from the Mosul area to Karakosh. Caritas anticipates over 1,300 families to be displaced in Karakosh. Caritas Centers are providing whatever is possible in medicine and first aid treatment in the area.

Telephonlines with Baghdad were bad this morning, but we managed to get through to our main office in Baghdad. We are pleased to report that our employees and volunteers are well.

Caritas Jordan:

Jamal visited the border and the two refugee camps at Ruweished yesterday. He reported that there are some 700 third country nationals are staying at camp A, 200 were shipped out of the country in the afternoon. In camp B (Iraqi nationals) is about to be completed. For the time being, no refugee is there.

Since the Jordanian bishops approved to the proposal of Caritas Jordan to shelter refugees in church premises, planning is under way in which parishes and churches a housing of evacuees is possible.

General information:


90 per cent of the third country nationals in camp A are Sudanese, among other refugees from Somalia, Eritrea, Mali, South Africa, and Egypt. Some of the Sudanese are still refusing to return to their home country. "I am afraid of going back home because of the war there" one Sudanese from the South of Sudan is quoted. One aid official said an Iraqi man had reached the border as well as some Palaestians with Iraqi travel documents. On Friday, 22 Egyptians arrived at the camp in Ruweished. The International Organsiation for Migration operates bus shuttles to bring the refugees from the border to camp. The Egyptians were bussed to Aqaba overnight, then ferried home across the Red Sea to the Port of Nuweibeh early Saturday morning. UNHCR reports that there are no refugees in Camp A (for Iraqi nationals) nor have Iraqi asylum seekers been observed on the road to Karameh. The organisation reported also that 24 Palestinians wishing to enter Jordan are currently in no-man's land awaiting processing. A further 25 Somalis are expected to have cleared the border this morning.

Only a few Iraqi drivers dare to bring refugees to the Jordan border. According to newspaper reports, they are terrified as they passed charred vehicles, burning buildings and a bombed fuel station on the highway to the Jordanian border on Saturday. Buildings still on fire near the desert road suggested recent air strikes.

Third country nationals coming to Jordan said, officials at the Iraqi border post had refused to let their Iraqi driver cross into Jordan.

Aid workers operating in no-man's-land between the Jordanian and the Iraqi border post said that there is more traffic heading into Iraq than the other way. One worker said around 200 Iraqis had left Jordan on Saturday. "The 'refugee flood' is in the wrong direction" he is quoted in a newspaper report.

The hospital in the camp reportedly treated more than 60 patients in the last two days, most of them in serious conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Others are suffering from mental distress as a consequence of the war.

Shipments carrying medicine bound for Iraq are ending up in Jordanian warehouses since the war blocked land routes between Jordan and Iraq. And even if the supplies get through, neither UN inspectors nor Iraqi authorities are available inside Iraqi territories to receive supplies. The medicine is part of the UN oil-for-food programme. The receiving UN agencies left Iraq prior to the initial attack, suspending the programme. According to newspaper reports, UN health agencies said they are continuing to prepare for a potential health crisis in Iraq. UN officials pointed out, that although there are sufficient supplies in Iraqi government warehouses for three months, they are only enough for "normal consumption".

The World Health Organisation explained that if 10,000 Iraqi people were unable to access healthcare for one month, five children with pneumonia would not receive life-safing antibiotics and 30 insulin-dependent diabetics would not receive teratment.


The security situation remained calm except for the Halabja area in Sulaymaniyah, close to the Iranian border which was affected by conflict with Ansar al Islam. The area is still restricted to UN staff. There are reports that people have fled to New Halabja, Sulaymaniyah and Iran but numbers are unknown.

The extent to which the cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah have returned to normal will be easier to judge with ending of the Nawrouz holiday.

Fuel continues to be scarce and expensive.

The checkpoints on the dividing line with the Government of Iraq (GoI) controlled areas are closed but 6 IDPs did manage to cross by an alternative route.

As of 28 February, the number of old-caseload IDPs in the northern governorates registered and verified by UNOPS was 17,303 families, or an estimated 138,424 people, living in camps, collective towns or public buildings. The new caseload, of 4,967 IDPs registered by UNOPS, are people who came from across the GoI dividing line. This figure does not include the IDPs who have recently fled their homes within the northern governorates. It is difficult at this time to confirm the numbers. The UN office of the humanitarian coordinator for Iraq estimates that as many as 300,000 people in the three northern Iraqi governates Irbil, Suleimaniyah and Dohuk may flee their homes. About 90 per cent of those would be housed by relatives but camps are being set up to accomodate the remaining 10 per cent, according to a UN press release.

An assessment of 700 IDPs in Balisan and 1,100 IDPs in Qaladza revealed that they are all from within the northern governorates and are currently staying with host families. There is no urgent need for assistance but the burden on host families could increase as the situation continues.

A UN assessment by national staff of IDPs in areas close to the borders with Iran and Turkey and the dividing line will be carried out shortly.

In Baghdad, the ICRC reports that personnel are visiting hospitals. ICRC delivered surgical materials to Al Yamouk Teaching Hospital where they saw 100 wounded. It was unclear whether they were civilians or military.

Best regards

Hanno Schaefer

Caritas Iraq Liaison Office
Office hours: Monday to Saturday 9 am to 5 pm (Jordan time is + 2 GMT).
Tel. 00962 2 6 5699432, 5664354, 5627719, 5627723
Fax 00962 2 6 5622277
Email <>

Liaison Officer Faiq Bourachi
Information Officer Hanno Schaefer
Email <>

For information on Caritas Jordan and refugees in Jordan:
Caritas Jordan
Office hours 8.30 am to 2 pm, except Friday and Sunday
Tel. 00962 2 6 4639032
Fax 00962 2 6 4619005
Email <>
General Manager Jamal Hattar