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Rights group decries treatment of Palestinian refugees in Iraq

[JURIST] Palestinian refugees in Iraq face danger from Shiite militias [CFR backgrounder] and harassment from the Iraqi government, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said in a new report [text; press release] released Sunday. The monitoring group found that the security of the approximately 34,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq [JURIST news archive] has drastically deteriorated since the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003: "Militant groups, mostly Shi`a, have targeted this predominantly Sunni minority community, attacking their communal buildings, committing several dozen murders, and threatening harm unless they immediately leave Iraq." HRW said the Iraqi government has done little to protect the refugees but has instead subjected them to "extremely burdensome registration requirements" which requires them to constantly renew short-term residency permits.

The report points out that since the bombing of the Shiite Askariyya mosque [Washington Post report] in Samarra on February 22, attacks on Palestinian refugees by Shiite militias have intensified as more than a dozen refugees have been murdered. HRW has called on Syria and Jordan to open their borders to Palestinian refugees and is urging the international community to provide those countries with financial assistance. AFP has more.

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