Japan to send tents to aid 10,000 displaced in Iraq

Kyodo News

Japan said Friday it will provide 1,000 tents to house about 10,000 displaced Iraqis, upon the request of the U.N. refugee agency, government and U.N. officials said.

The tents are expected to arrive in northern Iraq in late January, they said.

Under the plan approved by the Cabinet, the tents will be transported by land from Japan’s overseas stockpile base in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates to Iraq via Saudi Arabia and Syria by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Japan will provide the tents for free, while the UNHCR will bear the transportation costs, the officials said.

Children, women and the elderly among internally displaced Iraqis will be given priority in receiving the tents, said Satoshi Kinoshita, deputy director of the secretariat of the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters at the Cabinet Office.

The UNHCR has been distributing tents to internally displaced Iraqis, but the agency is expected to run out of supplies around late January because a U.N. warehouse in Damascus that can store 5,000-6,000 tents for the operation burned down in October.

As a result, the UNHCR submitted an urgent request to Japan for the provision of 1,000 tents, Kinoshita said.

The tents will be provided under Japan’s International Peace Cooperation Law.

It will be the third time Japan has sent aid materials from the Sharjah stockpile base, where a warehouse was established in 2006 to enable speedier and less costly supply of humanitarian relief materials.

Over 2 million Iraqis remain internally displaced and another 2 million have fled to neighboring countries.