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UN: Former Iraqi Refugees Regret Return

An Iraqi boy inspects Baghdad buildings damaged by bombs (file photo)
An Iraqi boy inspects Baghdad buildings damaged by bombs (file photo)

A United Nations study shows a majority of Iraqis who have returned to Baghdad after living in exile regret their decision.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says 61 percent of Iraqis polled said they regretted their return from neighboring countries. Most cited economic hardships, insecurity and a lack of basic public services in Baghdad.

In its findings released Tuesday, the refugee agency also said about one-quarter of those who had returned were uncertain if they would remain permanently in Iraq. Some refugees said they would consider seeking asylum in neighboring countries if conditions did not improve.

The agency surveyed more than 2,300 Iraqis who returned to Baghdad between 2007 and 2008. Agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming says many of the former refugees reported instances of explosions, harassment and kidnappings in the capital.

The UNHCR also says it remains concerned about the forcible deportations of Iraqi refugees. In June, the agency said some members of a group of 42 Iraqis who claimed they were forcibly returned from Britain showed signs of recent mistreatment.

Earlier this month, the refugee agency said its recent surveys of Iraqis living in Syria and Jordan showed most were reluctant to return home because of insecurity and instability in Iraq.

The UNHRC says it has registered more than 290,000 Iraqis since the start of the 2003 war.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.