Amnesty International 7th February 2007
Amnesty International today (7 February) expressed serious concern over UK plans to forcibly return asylum seekers to Northern Iraq. Many Iraqis are now reportedly being held in detention pending deportation on Monday 12 February.
Amnesty International UK Refugee Programme Director Jan Shaw said:
'Forcing people back to Iraq, even to the North, will put people's lives at risk. Amnesty remains opposed to any forcible return of asylum-seekers to Iraq, including to the Kurdish region.
'In post-conflict situations people should not be returned unless there is stability and a durable peace; neither of those is true in Iraq.
'Given the colossal scale of fighting and bloodshed in the country, it is hard to describe Iraq's situation as 'post-conflict' at all.
'Imagine how terrifying it must be for those watching the chaos unfolding in Iraq on the news to then receive a letter from the government stating that they are about to be flown back there.'
Amnesty International insisted that it does not consider that the Kurdish region of Iraq can be considered to have the safety or stability conducive to safe and sustainable return, and any return to it would be premature.
The two main Kurdish political parties are partners in the central Iraqi government and the leader of the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) is also the president of Iraq. Much of the current insurgency is aimed at the central government and its agents. Furthermore, the unresolved status of the city of Kirkuk - located outside but near the three Kurdish provinces with a mixed ethnic population of mainly Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen - has potential for increasing violence which may impact on the security situation in the region.