Friday, June 01, 2007

US opens its doors at last to 7,000 Iraqi refugees

The Bush Administration said yesterday that it was finally ready to admit up to 7,000 Iraqi refugees into the US, after months of delays and growing condemnation on Capitol Hill over the refusal to grant asylum to some of the 2.2 million Iraqis who have fled the war.

Acknowledging for the first time that Iraqis who have helped US forces since the 2003 invasion are at risk of death inside the country, the Department of Homeland Security said that new procedures were in place to screen the thousands who have been referred by the UN for resettlement in the US.

Refugee groups welcomed the move, but condemned it as too little, too late. The US has admitted fewer than 800 Iraqi refugees, leaving more than two million in refugee camps and cities across the Middle East. Another two million Iraqis have been displaced internally by the war, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Refugees International, a Washington-based advocacy group, said that Sweden had accepted 18,000 Iraqi refugees and Australia has resettled nearly 6,000. Britain has granted only 115 Iraqis asylum since 2003, out of 8,075 applications, according to Home Office figures. Ken Bacon, president of Refugees International, said: “The US should be doing much more.”

Entire article here.

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