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UN agency postpones Iraqi repatriation from Iran

UN agency postpones Iraqi repatriation from Iran because of terrorist bombing

The United Nations refugee agency said today it has postponed the first repatriation convoy of Iraqi refugees from Iran pending a security review after last week’s terrorist attack against UN headquarters in Baghdad.

The convoy of 100 returnees, a tiny fraction of the more than 200,000 Iraqi refugees in Iran - by far the largest group of Iraqi refugees in the world - had been expected to leave from Ashrafi refugee camp in Iran's southwestern Khuzestan province some time this week for Basra, Iraq's second largest city.

"In the aftermath of last week's bomb attack on the UN in Baghdad, the convoy has been postponed while the world body reviews the security situation in Iraq," the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a news release.

The agency, which has already organized two small repatriation convoys from Saudi Arabia, warned against any large-scale refugee returns this year because of the lack of security and infrastructure even before last week's terrorist bombing.

Meanwhile, the bodies of three more victims of the attack were being airlifted from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan, today where there were to be received by the Administrator of the UN Development Programme, Mark Malloch Brown. They were Ranillo Buenaventura of the Philippines, Reza Hosseini of Iran and Gillian Clark of Canada, who worked for the non-governmental organization Christian Children's Fund.

Mr. Malloch Brown met today with King Abdullah II of Jordan to convey Secretary-General Kofi Annan's gratitude for Jordan's assistance to the UN in the aftermath of the bombing, especially in receiving wounded staff.

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