The United Nations refugee agency has urged industrialized countries not to press Iraqi asylum-seekers to return home, saying the Middle Eastern country remains unsafe.

A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Rupert Colville, said Friday some countries, including Denmark, Britain and Germany, pressure Iraqi asylum-seekers to return, in some cases offering them financial incentives.

Mr. Colville told VOA it is difficult to estimate the total number of Iraqi refugees worldwide, including those who left during the 24-year rule of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. But he said 75,000 Iraqis have asked for asylum in industrialized countries in the past two years.

Mr. Colville also said tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees remain in neighboring Iran.