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Sudanese Refugees Leave Iraq for Resettlement

The UN refugee agency says nearly 100 Sudanese refugees, mainly from Darfur, who have been stranded in a makeshift camp in the desert in Iraq since 2005 have left for Amman, Jordan. The refugees are to be resettled in other countries.

The U.N. refugee agency says the group of 97 Sudanese refugees will fly to Romania to be housed in a new Emergency Transit Center while waiting for their resettlement applications to be processed.

U.N. refugee spokesman, Ron Redmond, says another group of 42 Sudanese refugees are expected to leave Iraq next month. He says the UNHCR does not yet know their final countries of resettlement.

"This group of Sudanese actually fled in the late 1980s, and since their departure from Sudan, the conditions in Darfur have seriously deteriorated," said Redmond. "They have had little or no contact with their families in Sudan since they left. In other words a lot of their connections have been severed and they fear returning to their country where they would find themselves more than likely in a situation of internal displacement."

Redmond says the refugees also came under attack in Iraq. He says they suffered abuse, blackmail, eviction and assaults by militias following the 2003 downfall of the Saddam Hussein regime.

He says 17 Sudanese were killed between December 2004 and February 2005 and this prompted many of them to try to flee Iraq. But he says they were not successful.

The UN refugee spokesman says the Sudanese have had a tough life during the past three years. He says they had to endure severe weather conditions and harassment by militias.

He says the UNHCR has been delivering aid to the group, which includes women and children, while trying to find a durable solution for them.