Aug 26 2012
Thousands of Iraqi exiles and Syrian refugees flock to Iraq
By Shaymaa Adel
Azzaman, August 26, 2012
Syria is no longer a haven for Iraqis fleeing violence in their own country. At least 24000 Iraqi exiles have returned home and many more are expected to come.
But it is not only the Iraqi exiles who are fleeing Syria and returning home. Some 14000 Syrians have fled the mounting violence in their own country and sought refuge in Iraq.
“The number of Syrian refugees in Iraq has reached 14000 since the start of the uprising and the number of Iraqis returning home from Syria has reached 2600,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Syrian refugees use Iraq as a last resort or alternative. They prefer other neighboring states like Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan, which together provide asylum for tens of thousands of Syrians.
It is not clear how many Iraqis are among the Syrians who have fled to neighboring states, but Syria has been most generous with the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who fled the violence that engulfed Iraq in the wake of the 2003-U.S. invasion.
It has been estimated that about one million Iraqi refugees live in Syria.
Iraqi exiles opting to reside in Syria were accommodated and integrated by the government into the Syrian society. They were given the right to live anywhere in the country and enjoyed public amenities like free schooling and medical services like Syrian nationals.
Little has emerged about the fate of the huge number of Iraqi exiles in Syria. There have been reports of Iraqis coming under pressure there, and some them were killed by rebel groups on sectarian grounds.
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