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Iranian refugees accepted by Sweden

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19:17 CEST+02:00
Sweden has agreed to host 111 Iranian Kurd refugees currently living in Jordan, after they fled the war in Iraq.

The refugees have been living at the Rweished camp, situated about 60 kilometers east of the Jordanian-Iraqi border, in 'rough conditions', according to Yara Sharif, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees spokesperson in Amman.

'For more than a year and a half, they had lived under tents in the inhospitable desert of the no man's land between Jordan and Iraq,' the UNHCR said on its website.

The Iranian Kurds fled Iran to Iraq during the Islamic Revolution lead by Al Khomeni, and fled Iraq to Jordan as soon as the US-led war on Iraq broke out.

The UNHCR said the refugees are in the process of finishing travel procedures to fly to Sweden, while 200 more are preparing to relocate to Ireland.

Currently, there are 498 refugees living in one of the largest refugee camps established after the Iraq war broke out.

The camp is a one-kilometre-wide stretch of arid land and was set up by the Red Crescent in 2003 to accommodate an influx of refugees in the wake of the war, according to The Jordan Times, Jordan's English-language newspaper.

Sharif said there are ongoing talks with Sweden, as well as New Zealand, Ireland, the US, Australia, Denmark, Finland and Norway to host the remaining refugees.

The remaining refugees include Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Sudanese, Moroccans and Iranian Kurds.

Last month, 202 refugees travelled to Stockholm, according to the UNHCR.

The UNHCR posted the expectations of some of the refugees as he was about to leave Jordan to Sweden.

Salim Kare, a father of five who had fled Iran at the start of the Khomeini era, said he was "finally going to live as a human being again."

"We were taught about the life, the schools, the laws in Sweden. When I arrive in Sweden, in Advalla, the place chosen for me, I will live like a Swede," he was quoted as saying on the UNHCR website.

Salim has spent more than half of his life as a refugee. Surrounded by heaps of luggage, he smiled in anticipation of his new life.

"We are happy to go, to start a new life, to learn mechanics and art," said brothers Payman Saiful, 22, and Zaman, 27. "But we are sad about the ones we are leaving behind in that horrible place, no man's land."

"When we arrive in Sweden, I will send my daughter back to school," said Karim Kosadi, surrounded by his five children.

His daughter says she cannot wait to leave:

"I want to learn English and Swedish, and everything," she interrupted. "In the camp I did not have the chance to learn anymore, and I have felt frustrated ever since."

Next to her, a little baby girl gazed around the messy departure hall with a serious look on her face.

"Sonia was born in the no man's land, one year and four months ago, she was the first baby born there," her mother said. "Nowadays all she says is Lolo (luleå), the town we are heading for in Sweden."

Rami Abdel Rahman

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