Iraqi Refugees Willing to Return to Iraq, If Situation Improves

May 3, 1998 - 0:0
AHVAZ, Khuzestan Province Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in this southwestern province, Mobasher Ahmed said here Saturday that most of the Iraqi refugees living in Iran are willing to return to their homeland on condition that the situation in Iraq improves. He told IRNA that not a single person has so far returned to Iraq from among 23,500 Iraqi refugees who are living in six camps throughout the province.

Imposition of economic sanctions on Iraq is a major obstacle in the way of return of Iraqi refugees to their country, Ahmed added. He said that reports received from UNHCR in Iraq indicate that the situation in that country is still chaotic as a result of imposition of economic sanctions. He expressed hope that the situation in Iraq will improve so that the Iraqi refugees living in this province will return to their homeland as soon as possible.

Praising great efforts made by the Iranian government to render services to the Iraqi refugees, the UNHCR official noted that there have been many positive developments in the Iraqi refugee camps in the province in the past five years. As for the delay in visits between the representatives of UNHCR in Iran and Iraq, Ahmed said the visits have temporarily been cancelled since no Iraqi refugee has returned to Iraq. He added that UNHCR representative in Khuzestan Province supervises over three Iraqi refugee camps in Fars and Lorestan provinces accomodating 9,500 refugees and another refugee camp in Bushehr Province accomodating 2,000 Afghan refugees.