Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous Post | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next Post »

IRAQ: Sudanese refugees 'waiting to die'

September 15, 2008 | 11:42 am


For hopelessness, it may be hard to top the 200-plus Sudanese refugees living in a makeshift camp in a remote desert part of Anbar province.

Four years ago, the Sudanese fled Baghdad, targeted for death by roving militias. Their tent city next to a highway is without running water or electricity. There are no jobs. The landscape is sun scorched and windblown.

Now the U.S. is trying to help. State Department officials are trying to arrange resettlement to a refugee camp run by the United Nations, possibly in Romania.

Navy medical personnel attached to the 5th Marine regiment have begun visiting the camp to provide at least stopgap medical care. Doctors and corpsmen recently visited the camp,  where they were greeted by a line of prospective patients.

Medical problems included a boy suffering from a gunshot wound, eye problems (exacerbated by the sand storms) and hypertension. "It's quite a miserable situation," Navy Lt. Michael W. Pruitt, battalion surgeon for the Marines' 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, said in a telephone interview.

Working with non-governmental relief agencies and the United Nations, officials with the State Department assigned to Anbar and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad are trying to expedite the refugees' relocation. The Sudanese are not optimistic.

"They feel like they are just existing there and waiting to die," said Mark Humphries, the State Department official assigned to this part of Anbar.

— Tony Perry, San Diego

Photo: Navy Lt. Michael W. Pruitt examines a 5-year-old Sudanese girl. Credit: Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson, USMC

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, as well as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for "L.A. Times updates," and then clicking on the "World: Mideast" box.