UNHCR voices concern over freedom of movement of displaced Iraqis


  • World
  • Tuesday, 15 Mar 2016

Displaced boys from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, walk at a refugee camp in Duhok province January 2, 2016. REUTERS/Ari Jalal

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United Nations' refugee agency has expressed concern that Iraqis displaced from territory controlled by Islamic State are being forcibly transferred to camps where their freedom of movement is restricted.

"Freedom of movement is key to displaced people being able to exercise other rights, such as access to work, food, healthcare and legal assistance," the UNHCR said in a statement.

The statement, published on Tuesday, summarized comments made by UNHCR spokesperson Ariane Rummery on 11 March in Geneva.

The UNHCR's concerns are focused on camps under the control of the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq and of the central government north and west of Baghdad, the agency said.

"While recognising the responsibility of authorities to undertake security screening of people fleeing territory controlled by extremist groups, we urge the government to set up clear procedures and facilities for this purpose that are separate from camps established to provide shelter and other humanitarian assistance to displaced Iraqis," it said.

In addition to the nearly 1 million Iraqis displaced since a civil war in 2006-2007 the UNHCR said more than 3.3 million have been displaced since 2014, when Islamic State militants took control of vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq.

(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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