On the Jordanian-Iraqi border all remains quiet. To the surprise of relief agencies here, the tens of thousands of Iraqi’s intended to flee the war have not arrived. There is almost no traffic coming through the main highway from Baghdad and only a few trucks and cars are taking the risk of heading into Iraq. Around forty miles from the border, the UN supported camp remains empty. Over the past several days, relief agencies have been hastily erecting tents and putting in sewage facilities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE RELIEF WORKER
“Now there are no refugees here at the moment. We are moving in advance of what we hope doesn’t happen. This camp here that you see, there is an estimated capacity of about 15,000 here.”
NATURAL SOUND - CHILDREN PLAYING
The only refugees to cross the border in the last half 48 hours are foreign nationals, mostly Sudanese students and workers. The International Organization for Migration is helping to house around 300 in a separate camp and are supervising their return to Sudan. Akmed Akmed Apubaka left Iraq with nothing but a few suitcases. He lived and worked in Iraq for the last 13 years.
AKMED AKMED APUBAKA
“I left my whole life behind me in Baghdad. I am going back to Sudan to stay with my family there.”
“He got nothing to do. Everything is finished for him.”
JOSE ROMIGIO, IOM
“Well, what’s been going on is that we are trying to find out how many people want to go back home. Right now, we started in the middle of the night last night and we don’t know how many want to go home. I was given 349 passports to sort out, and now I’m sorting them out. The people who want to go home we’ll bring them home. I don’t think anyone wants to stay here in this kind of winter its very cold.
Though many of the refugees gathered in this windy and isolated camp chose to leave, over half remain. But as the bombing of Baghdad intensifies, they may be soon joined by hundreds, if not thousands, more.