Page last updated at 17:34 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 18:34 UK

Europe criticised on Iraqi asylum

Iraqi refugees arrive at Hanover airport, Germany
Iraqis top the list of asylum claims in industrialised nations in 2009 (UNHCR)

The United Nations refugee agency has criticised European countries for sending asylum seekers back to central Iraq, an area it considers unsafe.

It said people fleeing the region needed international protection because of security concerns and what it called "serious human rights abuses".

The call from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees came after Britain tried to deport 44 men to Baghdad.

Denmark and Sweden were also cited as having forced Iraqi refugees to return.

Of the asylum seekers sent back by the UK government on 16 October 2009, 10 were admitted but the rest were refused re-entry and flown back to Britain.

They are being held in immigration centres near Gatwick airport.

The UNHCR was set up in 1950 to oversee the protection of refugees and to try to address causal problems.

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