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UNHCR says some 60 Iraqis sent home from Europe

UNHCR says some 60 Iraqis sent home from Europe

Some 60 Iraqis who failed to gain asylum have been deported from several European countries and sent back to Baghdad despite concerns the situation is still too dangerous for their return, the U.N. refugee agency said Thursday.
The plans to send the Iraqis home from Britain, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands have raised concern over the fate of the estimated 2 million Iraqis who have fled Iraq _ most because of the violence following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Security has seen dramatic improvements over the past two years in Iraq. But the UNHCR had urged governments not to force the Iraqis to return, citing continued attacks and human rights violations in Baghdad and surrounding areas.
"Our position reflects the volatile security situation and the still high level of prevailing violence, security incidents, and human rights violations taking place in these parts of Iraq," the agency said in a statement last week.
British border officials said the Iraqis had been questioned by Iraqi Interior Ministry officials to ensure they were eligible to return to Iraq.
"In 2008 the courts found that we were able to return people to Iraq," said Matthew Coats, head of immigration for Britain's border agency. "The security situation in Iraq is significantly better now than it was in 2008 and assisted voluntary returns to Iraq have increased every year since 2007."
The plane carrying 28 refugees from Sweden and 30 from Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands _ most of whom had been outside Iraq for five to 12 years _ landed in Baghdad on Wednesday night and the passengers have been taken to an airport screening center, said UNHCR spokeswoman Maha Sidky.
"Once they can be assisted in obtaining legal Iraqi documentation, they are likely to be allowed entry," she said.
The flight took off from London, then stopped in Sweden to collect more passengers. Sidky said the flight was delayed when a group of about 10 of the deportees disappeared at the airport in Sweden.
Some of the returnees had asked for legal assistance in obtaining Iraqi documents and many were seeking to contact relatives in Iraq, she said.
Most of the 2 million Iraqi refugees overall are living without permanent homes in neighboring Syria and Jordan, and the U.N. expressed concern that the European decision would send the wrong signal to those countries.
Iraqi authorities have encouraged people to return to their homeland, insisting Iraqi forces are able to protect them as U.S. forces pull back.
"I love all the achievements we have made, especially in the field of security," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in an interview broadcast late Wednesday on Iraqi state TV. "I hate this phenomena that forced the people to emigrate. God willing, we will provide the atmosphere that helps them return home."


Updated : 2021-10-18 06:06 GMT+08:00