United Nations peacekeepers will move into southern Iraq on Wednesday, a U.N. official said Tuesday, but a U.S. Army officer said his unit has no plans to withdraw from the dusty refugee camp they run here.
More than 11,000 refugees are at the camp and many have expressed fears that the small, lightly armed U.N. contingent will not be able to protect them from President Saddam Hussein's security forces.Majed Fayad, the spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, said in Kuwait City Tuesday that the U.N. force would establish its first observation post in the demilitarized zone near Safwan on Wednesday.
He also said all American and Iraqi soldiers would be withdrawn from part of the zone that includes Safwan and the coastal town of Umm Qasr. But U.S. Army Maj. Tom Grubbs, who runs the refugee camp in Safwan, said his unit had no plans to leave.
"The U.S. forces have two missions here - security and humanitarian assistance," Grubbs said. "These missions will continue indefinitely." The U.S. Army, Saudi Arabia and the Kuwaiti Red Crescent are caring for about 40,000 refugees in or near the buffer zone.
Fayad said the U.N. peacekeepers have no mandate to conduct humanitarian operations, but officials from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees were in the border area assessing the situation.