Shamzin JIHANI, jihani.shamzin@gmail.com 

 

The tragic fate of the Iranian Kurdish refugees between the Iraqi-Jordanian borders

 

 

Currently, there is a large group of Iranian Kurdish refugees, living in a very deplorable condition between the borders of Iraq and Jordan. This group which is constituted of 194 people (25 families with 100 children under the age of eighteen and 9 solitary males) lives in extremely deplorable conditions in a slum refugee camp which is deprived of any kind of elementary services such as water and food supply, hygienic facilities, medical care, etc.

The young girls of the camp have to walk several kilometers each day to find themselves on the main road between the two countries, in order to ask traveling people for potable water and other necessities. In this way, these young girls may become subjected to many unpredictable risks.

The tragic fate of this group of Kurdish refugees dates back to the beginning of the 1980s, when the Iraqi troops, following the days after the Iranian-Iraqi war entered the Iranian territory and destroyed their villages in the Iranian province of Kirmanshan. As a result, more than 20,000 of this civilian population had been taken by the Iraqi troops as prisoners of war. After a while, they ended in starting a deplorable life in a refugee camp known Altash near the Iraqi town of Al-Rumadi, in the Middle of desert.

As they were registered as refugees by the UNHCR, an important number of them were transferred by the help of the International Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations to some countries in Western Europe, above all to Sweden and Norway and to a lesser extent to Finland and Switzerland. Likewise, several hundreds have returned to Iran.

It is noteworthy to say that these Kurdish refugees were made up of several clans, genealogical networks and suchlike social groups who prior to their captivity and forced exile maintained a sense of “group feeling” and intern allegiance whether on the basis of clan belongingness or geographic and local identity. Politically, they have sympathized with the Kurdish movement in Iran, more specifically with the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan PDK-I.

After the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, they got jammed in the increasing sectarian and became subjected to several terrorist attacks, carried out mostly by Al-Qaida. As a result of these terrorist attacks, 12 people were brutally killed. However, the precarious social, economic and security conditions of the refugee camp of Altash have successively forced the Iranian Kurdish refugees to flee the area in order to find themselves whether in Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey, or as mentioned above in a slum refugee camp between Iraqi and Jordanian border. Today, the number of the Iranian Kurdish refugees in Altash has drastically decreased.

However, the heartbreaking fate of the Iranian Kurdish refugees from Altash, above all of those who stay at the Iraqi-Jordanian borders should become a major moment of concern, not only for the UNHCR but also for all other humanitarian organizations worldwide.

 

 

 

 

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