Only 4 per cent of Iraqis in Syria plan to return home: UN report

Iraqi children playing in a neighbourhood of Damascus

29 April 2008 – Only 4 per cent of Iraqi refugees currently plan to return to their own country, while almost all have fled their homeland because of direct threats or general insecurity, according to a report out today from the United Nations refugee agency.

The report found that 65 per cent of refugees who do not wish to return said that they were under direct threat in Iraq. Some 30 per cent do not want to return because of the general insecurity in their home country and 8 per cent said their home in Iraq had been destroyed or was occupied by others.

A total of 4.7 million Iraqis have been uprooted as a result of the crisis in their country. Of these over 2 million are living as refugees in neighbouring countries – mostly Syria and Jordan – while 2.7 million are internally displaced inside Iraq.

An estimated 44 per cent of Iraqi refugees left Iraq between 2003 and 2006, while 54 per cent left after 2006.

In January, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) appealed for $261 million to support Iraqi refugees and Iraqis displaced inside the country, but so far the agency has received just under half of that amount.

The survey was carried out with nearly 1,000 Iraqis refugees in the Syrian capital, Damascus, at UNHCR’s registration and food distribution sites, as well as in community centres or during home visits.

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