The U.N. refugee agency says it has changed its guidelines on how countries should treat asylum seekers from southern Iraq because of the improved security situation.
UNHCR says Iraqis from the central province of Anbar and all southern provinces should be individually assessed if they apply for asylum abroad. Previously it recommended that all Iraqis from central and southern provinces should be considered refugees.
Spokesman Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that people from high-risk groups _ including religious and ethnic minorities _ should receive "favorable consideration."
He says asylum seekers from other central provinces "continue to need international protection and should not be sent back there."