Ranks of Refugees on the Rise in Northern Iraq

ROME, MARCH 28, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Caritas reported an increase in the movement of displaced people in northern Iraq.

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Over the past week, between 2,000 and 3,000 people arrived in the city of New Halabja, from heavily bombed areas such as Baghdad and Sulemainiya.

In the city of Bazyan, some 2,000 displaced families have been identified (about 10,000 people), from the border areas of Chamchamal and Shrosh, the object of air attacks.

Caritas staffers in those regions are providing emergency humanitarian aid, including food and blankets.

The new arrivals are being housed in mosques, schools and empty houses, in overcrowded conditions. The schools lack bathrooms and running water.

The war refugees are also coping with cold weather and a lack of fuel, Caritas reported today. The price of the latter has soared in recent weeks. Cases of diarrhea and asthma have also been reported.

In Baghdad, the bombing of a telecommunications center has made it impossible for the Caritas-Iraq contact office in Amman, Jordan, to be in touch with its centers of distribution in the interior of the country.

There are reports that the intense bombing of Baghdad over the past few hours. Essential products are no longer available in Baghdad, and many people are fleeing the city, Caritas said.

Caritas in Basra reported that the city is relatively calm, though fighting is taking place outside the city.

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