UNHCR urges halt to Iraqi deportations

12 March 2003
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 11 March called for a moratorium on the deportation of Iraqi asylum seekers, ahead of likely war in the country. The Geneva-based body called for a three-month suspension of the process of repatriating those whose asylum bids have failed. A relatively small number of Iraqi refugees are currently facing deportation and the UNHCR called the measure 'precautionary'. Spokesman Kris Janowski said: 'We don't think there has been a problem of this kind so far and we certainly hope that governments will heed this in the future.' In 2002, Iraqis constituted the largest single group seeking refugee status in developed countries, mostly heading for the UK and Germany, with high numbers also arriving in Austria and Sweden.

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