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Jordan Appeals For Help With Iraqi Refugee Influx

AMMAN, July 26, 2007 -- Jordan has appealed for international help to deal with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis it is hosting on its soil.

Mukheimar Abu-Jamous, the secretary-general of Jordan's Interior Ministry, told an international conference in Amman today that the influx of some 750,000 Iraqis into Jordan costs $1 billion a year in basic services, and heightens security concerns in the kingdom.

The conference on the Iraqi refugee crisis brings together officials from Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hajj al-Hmud urged countries hosting refugees not to mistreat those arriving at their borders and to avoid their forcible return until stability returns to Iraq.

The United Nations says some 2 million Iraqis have fled Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion, and estimates that around 50,000 people continue to flee every month, mostly to neighboring Jordan and Syria, which are struggling to cope with the influx of refugees.

Rights group Amnesty International said that without urgent action, the influx of Iraqis threatens a humanitarian crisis that could engulf the region.

(dpa, AFP, AP)

Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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