12 September 2008

Refugee, 9, dies from injuries sustained in Al Tanf

The death of a nine-year old Palestinian refugee on September 10th highlights the continuing danger in Al Tanf, a refugee camp located on the Iraq-Syria border. He died late Tuesday afternoon in an ambulance after being struck by a truck. The Baghdad-Damascus highway runs past the settlement and the young refugee, Mohamed Kamal Ibrahim, is not the first child to be killed by a vehicle on this road. He was due to be resettled in Sweden soon with his family.

Conditions in the camp are harsh and unforgiving. The camp suffers from sandstorms, fire risks, and extremes of cold and heat in the desert, while also being infested with snakes and scorpions. Many of the refugees, who cannot enter Syria, suffer from a range of ailments and traumas, yet the nearest hospital is in Iraq (400 km away) The UNHCR has repeatedly drawn attention to the lack of medical facilities, which they say points to the need for a humanitarian solution to be found for displaced Palestinians who cannot return home due to fighting in Iraq.

In fact, few of these displaced Palestinians will eve be accepted for resettlement or offered shelter in third countries. Only about 300 have been able to relocate to non-traditional resettlement countries such as Brazil and Chile, and recently a group of 29 made their way to Iceland from Al Waleed, another refugee camp. But this does very little to alleviate the suffering of the remaining 2300 or so still stranded in the desert.

Amnesty International (as well as the UNHCR) calls for alternative solutions to the refugee crisis in Baghdad. Solutions must be found to provide medical care, basic necessities, and safety to the residents of the camp, and more importantly, long term solutions must be found for their futures.

Find the original story by Dalia Al-Achi and Carole Laleve here.

No comments: