Iraq’s Palestinian Children Dying: UN

The Palestinian Return Center

GENEVA — IOL- 29/6/2007

Amid apathy from neighboring and Western countries, Palestinian children stranded in Iraq face the risk of death or lifelong complications if they are not immediately evacuated and receive urgent medical care, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Friday, June 29.

It said at least a dozen seriously-ill Palestinians require urgent treatment outside of the conflict-riven country, mainly young children stuck in Baghdad or a refugee camp on the Syrian border, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond cited the case of a two-year-old with cerebral palsy who has very low immunity, is in urgent need of physical therapy and has stopped eating.

Another child, a 13-year-old girl suffering from a spinal injury, will be permanently paralysed from the neck down unless she gets treatment soon, he told journalists.

The girl’s mother died a few years ago, her father was murdered in January and her home was burned by militia, Redmond added.

The youngest case that badly needs medical care is a 15-month-old baby.

There are an estimated 15,000 Palestinians in Iraq, mostly in Baghdad, down from an original population of 34,000 before the US-led invasion in 2003.

The UNHCR said earlier this month that there were an estimated 9.9 million refugees globally.
The figure does not include Palestinian refugees who fall under the mandate of the separate UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

If added, the total number of refugees under both agencies’ mandates hits more than 14 million.

Apathetic Neighbors.

The UNHCR said that “a humanitarian solution” is urgently needed for the Palestinian refugees in Iraq, particularly vulnerable children.

It noted that neither neighboring Syria nor Western countries had yet offered to take in the sick children.

The UNHCR earlier this week said that some 1,400 Palestinian refugees stranded in and around the Al-Waleed camp on the Syrian border face “hell” from their harsh physical conditions and stateless limbo.

“Several refugees begged our team not to forget them and leave them in this hell,” said Jennifer Pagonis, a spokeswoman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday, June 26.

“They seem to be a voice in the wilderness no one is listening to,” she told journalists.


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