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Iraqi Government, UN launch plan to help returning refugees

Iraqi Government, UN launch plan to help returning refugees

Acting on an Iraqi Government request, the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMI) today announced that it will support efforts to help returning refugees by providing a relief package under a new plan that can be expanded as necessary.

An estimated 40,000 families of refugees and 10,000 families of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned, largely to greater Baghdad, UNAMI said in a news release.

“The United Nations, while not encouraging or promoting the return of refugees or IDPs, given the prevailing security environment, has taken active measures to support the Iraqi authorities in meeting the assistance and needs of those returnees and prepare for organized movements,” the mission said.

Toward this end, UNAMI and the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration today launched a plan to assist 5,000 families – some 30,000 people – with an immediate relief package delivered through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“Three UNHCR experts have been with us in Baghdad to assist the Iraqi authorities and UNAMI in its design with an initial contribution of about $11 million,” the mission said, noting that the response can be expanded to assist an increased number of returnees or other vulnerable groups.

“The voluntary flow of returnees to Iraq is a positive sign that deserves an equally positive response and prompt assistance in support of a safe and dignified return, which is the reason for the joint Rapid Response plan between the Government and the United Nations system.”

The UN is expected to launch a consolidated emergency appeal for Iraq in the latter part of January 2008.