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UNHCR Praises Syria, Jordan for Accommodating Iraqi Refugees


The top United Nations refugee official has praised Syria and Jordan for accommodating Iraqi refugees, and he has urged the international community to support their efforts.

The U.N. high commissioner for refugees, Antonio Guterres, said Thursday in Vienna that the world owes a "big debt of gratitude" to Syria and Jordan for taking in about two million Iraqi refugees. Both countries have said the Iraqi influx is straining their health and education systems.

Guterres thanked Syria for taking what he called a particularly positive approach toward the Iraqi refugees. He welcomed Germany's offer this week to give Syria $5 million to build schools for Iraqi refugees and Syrian children.

The UNHCR estimates that Syria is hosting 1.2 million Iraqis, while Jordan is home to 500,000 to 750,000 Iraqi refugees. Smaller numbers of Iraqis have fled to Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey.

The United States said this week it will contribute $30 million to U.N. programs for educating Iraqi refugee children in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.

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