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Middle East
UN to increase Iraq refugee support
More than 700,000 Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes in the last month.
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2007 06:43 GMT

The UN estimates there are about 1 million displaced Iraqis now in Syria [EPA]

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has begun a one-week mission to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan to strengthen support for displaced Iraqis in the region and the countries hosting them.
 
George Okoth-Obbo, director of international protection, travelled to Syria on Saturday ahead of an April conference in Geneva on displacement in Iraq.
The United Nations estimates 2 million Iraqis now live in nearby countries and about 1.9 million have been displaced within Iraq itself.
 
It estimates more than 727,000 Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes since last month.
A statement issued by the agency said the one-week mission is "part of UNHCR's overall efforts to strengthen its protection and assistance programmes for hundreds of thousands of uprooted Iraqis in the region".
 
International protection

Okoth-Obbo will be in Syria until Tuesday, then travels to Lebanon through Wednesday, and then Jordan on Thursday and Friday. He will meet government officials and aid workers in each country.

UNHCR estimates Syria hosts about 1 million Iraqis and Jordan hosts about 750,000. Lebanon has an estimated 40,000 Iraqis.

The statement said: "Missions will be focussed on the ongoing effort to ensure that Iraqis fleeing their homeland receive international protection, that the required systems are in place ... and that there are programmes for the provision of assistance and solutions, including resettlement of the most vulnerable."

Radhouane Nouicer, UNHCR's director for the Middle East and North Africa will also be reviewing operations in the region.
Source:
Al Jazeera
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