07/26/2007, 00.00
JORDAN – IRAQ
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Amman: international conference on Iraqi refugees

Neighbouring countries are increasingly unable to cope with refugee flow. They fear major economic and social upheaval and ask for help. UN high Commission for Refugees says at least US$ 130 million are needed for immediate action.

Amman (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An international conference on Iraqi refugees opened today in the Jordanian capital of Amman. Representatives from Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Jordan, plus observers from Turkey, Iran, Russia, Japan, Great Britain, the European Union and the United Nations are meeting to discuss the reality of hundreds of thousands of fleeing Iraqis and the economic and social burden their presence is causing.

Jordan has one of the heaviest burdens. Its health, housing and health care infrastructures are bursting at the seams. Even drinking water is becoming a problem.

For the Iraqi government through its Foreign Minister Mohamad el-Hajj al-Hmoud, the situation has become an giant “humanitarian crisis,” and has called on neighbours to help.

He wants host countries to more easily grant residence permits to Iraqi refugees at least until things in Iraq are stabilised. He also asked them to open their public schools and health care facilities to Iraqis.

A spokesman for the Jordanian government, which does not recognise Iraqis on its territory as refugees, has urged the international community to acknowledge the burden his country is bearing for the crisis.

He has not demanded direct aid for Jordan itself, but said that specific assistance should go to projects that support and help Iraqis in Jordan.

In 2007 the UN high commission for refugees received US$ 66 million for the Iraqi refugee crisis, but UN sources suggest that the figure should at least be double.

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