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REFUGEES FROM IRAQ FACE TRAGEDY

REFUGEES FROM IRAQ FACE TRAGEDY

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About 225,000 Egyptians waited Friday at the Iraqi border to cross into Jordan, but they were held back because Jordan cannot cope with the 100,000 refugees already stranded in its desert, a border official said.

A U.N. relief official warned that the refugee problem could explode into a ``human tragedy.'Four tons of canned beef from the Netherlands were sent to laboratories for testing Friday after tons of cookies, powdered milk and dates sent to hungry refugees were deemed unfit for human consumption.

The worthless food was the latest in a series of problems confronting the people trying to ease the misery of 45,000 Asian refugees packed into the makeshift Shaalan I camp here.

Fights have broken out in this and other camps jam-packed with hungry refugees who fled Iraq and Kuwait after Iraq invaded Aug 2. They scramble and jostle for a meager daily ration of a piece of bread, a tomato and a cucumber.

Red Cross officials and others say some refugees have gone for up to three days with little water, food or shelter.

The Jordanian border official, who requested anonymity, said the Egyptians were stranded in a huge camp just inside the Iraqi border.

``They are waiting under terrible conditions for permission to cross into Jordan to continue their journey home,' the official said.

``But we cannot cope with such huge numbers before the Asian evacuees already inside Jordan waiting for transportation to their homes are shifted,' he added.

He said 18,325 crossed through this post during the day.

James N. Purcell, director of the U.N. International Organization for Migration, appealed urgently for ships and aircraft to repatriate the Asians squatting in hot and dirty camps ``before human suffering becomes a human tragedy.'

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