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Sweden deports Iraqis despite UN criticism

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06:51 CEST+02:00
Sweden deported 56 Iraqis to Baghdad on Wednesday in the face of stern criticism from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

The UNHCR argued on Tuesday that the return of the Iraqis to their warn-torn homeland risked their lives.

The asylum-seeking Iraqis - from Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Great Britain - were collected in Sweden and sent to Baghdad on Wednesday. All had had their applications for asylum rejected.

"UNHCR is concerned about the signal that forced returns from Europe could give to other host countries, particularly those neighbouring Iraq," said Melissa Fleming, spokesperson of the refugees agency said on Tuesday in advance of the deportations.

The UNHCR argued that some parts of Iraq remain blighted by high levels of violence.

"Iraqi asylum applicants originating from Iraq's governorates of Baghdad, Diyala, Ninewa and Salah-al-Din, as well as from Kirkuk province, should continue to benefit from international protection in the form of refugee status," said the spokesperson.

"Our position reflects the volatile security situation and the still high level of prevailing violence, security incidents, and human rights violations taking place in these parts of Iraq," she added.

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