Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Second group of stranded Sudanese leave Iraq for Romania, reports UN agency

27 January 2009 – A second group of Sudanese refugees, most of whom are fleeing strife-torn Darfur, have been evacuated from perilous circumstances in Iraq to a groundbreaking transit centre in Romania, from which they hope to be resettled in the United States, the United Nations refugee agency reported today.

The group of 42 Sudanese refugees are staying in the new Emergency Transit Centre set up by the Romanian Government, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide a temporary haven for refugees pending final resettlement in a third country, a UNHCR spokesperson said today.

The refugees, who have been provided with winter clothing, are joining another group of Sudanese who arrived last December, making a total of 138 Sudanese refugees now in the Centre, including 40 children.

They will stay in the Centre, the first of its kind in the world and located in the Romanian city of Timisoara, until their applications for resettlement in the US are processed, UNHCR said.

In Iraq, the agency said, the Sudanese refugees suffered abuse, blackmail, eviction and assault by militias following the 2003 downfall of the Saddam Hussein regime. A total of 17 of them were killed between December 2004 and February 2005.

Because of this targeting, the refugees tried to flee Iraq but became stranded in the Al Anbar desert in the K-70 camp outside Al Rutbah town, some 75 kilometres east of the Jordan-Iraq border.

Conditions in the tented camp were very harsh, with desert sandstorms, soaring daytime temperatures and freezing weather at night, UNHCR said.

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