Russia Agreed First to Receive Iraqi Refugees - 1 April, 2003

Iran welcomes the assistance of the Emergency Situations Ministry (MChS) of Russia which is the first country to have given concrete support in creating conditions for receiving possible refugees from Iraq, head of the crisis staff on the problem of Iraq at the Interior Ministry of Iran Ahmad Khosseini stated.

Head of the operational group and chief of the foreign relations directorate of the Emergencies Ministry of the Russian Federation Valery Shuikov said in an interview with RIA Novosti that talks with representatives of the crisis staff of the Iranian Interior Ministry and of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR Office) were held on Monday.

According to the Iranian side's assurances, the humanitarian assistance of Russia will at all events be directed at meeting the Iraqis' needs even if there are no refugees on the border territories, Shuikov noted. As he said, the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the south of Iraq, in particular, now causes concern.

"Ahmad Khosseini also reported of the accord with the UNHCR Office and other international organisations on co-ordinating further efforts. If the situation becomes aggravated, the UNHCR Office will send respective inquiries with a view to urgently reacting to the situation", Shuikov said.

At the present time two sites for Russian Emergencies Ministry camps for possible Iraqi refugees have been prepared on the western border territory of Iran, and the question of fixing a place for an aeromobile hospital is being decided now. It can be placed both on Iranian territory and in the Iraqi border areas. All the necessary communications lines, electricity and water have been established, and reservoirs for drinking water have been installed. If necessary, the Emergencies Ministry operational group will unfold camps and an aeromobile hospital within the shortest time," Shuikov said.

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