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US to admit 7,000 Iraqi refugees in expanded resettlement program

[JURIST] The US State Department [official website] Wednesday announced an expanded program to allow 7,000 Iraqi refugees to resettle in the US. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres [official profiles] to discuss the plan, which will fast-track refugee applications from Iraqis who face retaliation for cooperating with US forces. Since the Iraq war began in 2003, only 463 Iraqis have successfully relocated to the US, while between 1,000,000 and 1,400,000 have relocated to Syria and Jordan in that time period, according to UNHCR statistics [BBC report]. AP has more.

In January, the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] held special hearings [notice] on the the plight of Iraqi refugees where Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey [official profile] testified [transcript] that the US has no quota on the number admitted to the country. Sauerbrey urged US financial support for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) [official website], which on January 9 requested $60 million in funds [UNHCR press release] toward securing permanent placements for 1.7 million displaced Iraqis.

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