Monday, September 8, 2008

Baghdad Working On Extending Plane Trips For Iraqi Refugees From Jordan

Iraq’s Minister of Immigration Abul Samad Abdul Rahman was recently in Jordan working on plans to repatriate Iraqi refugees back to their homes. Baghdad is hoping that it can contract some planes to bring back those that want to return. That would start in two to three weeks. Rahman claimed that security had improved enough in Iraq that it was time for refugees to come back. A United Nations official wasn’t so sure.

Jordanian officials seemed happy about the idea of Iraqi refugees leaving. They said Iraqis had cost them up to $1.6 billion. The Jordanian government and aid groups claim that there are 500,000-1,000,000 Iraqis there. A survey however, found only 161,000. Since 2005 Amman has been placing restrictions on the influx of refugees. In February for example, they set new visa rules on Iraqis. There is increasing public pressure against their presence in the country.

As reported earlier, Baghdad brought back two plane loads of Iraqi refugees from Cairo, Egypt in early August on the Prime Minister’s own private jet in a highly publicized event. Afterwards officials said that they were hoping to expand the idea to throughout the Middle East to bring back Iraqis. This is part of the government’s new refugee program issued this summer that aims to return all of the country’s displaced to show that security has improved in the country.

SOURCES

International Crisis Group, “Failed Responsibility: Iraqi Refugees In Syria, Jordan and Lebanon,” 7/10/08

IRIN, “IRAQ-JORDAN: Government planes to facilitate repatriation,” 9/4/08

Ma’ayeh, Philip, “Iraqi refugees only dream of home,” The National, 6/30/08

Mattar, Shafika, “Jordan Restricts Visas for Iraqis,” Associated Press, 2/14/08

Middle East Online, “Iraqi refugees scoff at boasts of improved security,” 3/19/08

Seeley, Nicholas, “In Jordan, aid for Iraqi refugees is often redirected,” Christian Science Monitor, 7/2/08

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