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Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Visa restrictions keep Iraqis from fleeing

January 9, 2008

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— The number of Iraqis fleeing their homeland has declined in recent months, primarily because neighboring countries refuse to let them enter, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.

The improvement in security in some areas of Iraq also may play a role, said Ron Redmond, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

"It could be a whole combination of things," he said.

An estimated 2 million Iraqis are living outside their country, most of them having left since the U.S.-led invasion nearly five years ago, according to UNHCR.

"The number of people fleeing Iraq has declined considerably because of the visa restrictions that have been imposed by governments around Iraq, particularly Syria and Jordan," Redmond said.

"There used to be 3,000 people a day, but that's not possible now because they require visas," he told The Associated Press. He said he was unable to say exactly how many people are leaving Iraq now, but he was sure it was much lower.

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