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Iraqi Refugees 'Living in Limbo' UN Official Says

The chief of the United Nations refugee agency says tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees are "living in limbo" despite efforts to find them new homes.

UNHCR High Commissioner Antonio Guterres said Friday that only about half of the 100,000 Iraqi refugees looking for new places to live have been resettled in host countries since 2007.

About three-quarters of the resettled Iraqis have been placed in the United States, and Guterres urged more countries to accept Iraqi refugees and speed-up the resettlement process.

Guterres spoke during a trip to Syria for World Refugee Day on Sunday. Syria is the first Middle Eastern country to host the event, and home to 45 percent of Iraqi refugees seeking new homes.

The U.N. says there are 1.8 million Iraqi refugees, most of them living in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon Egypt and Turkey.

The U.N. refugee agency says that in 2009 voluntary repatriations hit their lowest level in nearly 20 years.

Guterres warned Friday that the proportion of refugees unable to find new homes is only expected to grow because of conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Congo.

He also said some conflicts which appeared to be easing have now stagnated.