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Hundreds Of Iraqi Refugees Return Home From Iran

Hundreds Of Iraqi Refugees Return Home From Iran, UN Reports

Over the past two days, 500 Iraqi refugees have left camps in Iran to return to their home country, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today.

The new arrivals bring to more than 2,600 the number of Iraqis who have gone back from Iran since last November, Kris Janowski told the press in Geneva.

After entering the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the refugees receive plastic tarpaulins, blankets, jerry cans, lanterns, hygienic items and tents if needed, as well as a small stipend to cover transport costs back to their communities. They are also enrolled in the country's food distribution network.

In a sign of the region's changing conditions, the refugee agency last weekend closed what was once Iran's largest camp, Ashrafi Esfahani, home to more than 12,000 refugees. "UNHCR expects other Iraqi camps to close in coming weeks, such as Beheshti, which now only shelters 28 refugees," Mr. Janowski said.

Although the agency is not encouraging any refugees to return to Iraq because of prevailing security problems and the fragile humanitarian situation, the Tehran Government estimates that more than 50,000 may have spontaneously gone back from Iran in recent months.

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