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U.N. aid agencies heading back to Iraq

Water, sanitation, medical supplies among pressing needs

Iraqis in Basra clamor for water on Friday.
Iraqis in Basra clamor for water on Friday.

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AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- United Nations representatives of various agencies were headed Saturday to the Iraqi town of Badrah on the Iranian border, where they say some 30,000 to 60,000 displaced Iraqis are taking shelter.

According to Iranian and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees authorities, the displaced Iraqis, many of whom fled the fighting in Baghdad and other areas, are not planning to cross into Iran.

Iranian authorities said Thursday they had sent food, water, and medicine to the normally small town of 6,000. Most of the displaced are believed to be staying in tents or with host families.

Meanwhile, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq reports that the first U.N. relief convoy is on its way to Basra from Iran.

Ramiro Armando de Oliveira Lopes de Silva arrived in Amman on Saturday to discuss how to deliver humanitarian assistance with the Jordanian government.

According to de Silva, the U.N. is hoping to re-establish its presence in Iraq by Monday, after its staff was removed from the country on March 18th.

De Silva said the organization "will be expanding that presence as the situation of restoring law and order on the ground improves."

He added that the most pressing needs are related to water, sanitation, medical supplies and medical services.

However, de Silva acknowledged that the lack of order on the ground was constraining relief efforts, and said that the U.N. was pleased to see the coalition forces undertaking new efforts to bring about normalcy, through the use of police advisers.

"We are hoping to see swift results in that undertaking," said de Silva.

De Silva stated the lack of law and order could turn from looting to a situation of score settling, and sends the Iraqis the wrong message about their future and what it means to be free and democratic. The situation is also making more residents of Baghdad and other areas flee their homes.

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