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Last Updated: Monday, 12 February 2007, 20:08 GMT
Sweden urges EU to take in Iraqis
Woman at a displaced person's camp in Iraq
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have fled their country since 2003
Sweden, which currently takes in more than half of all Iraqis seeking asylum in Europe, is urging other European Union nations to do more.

More than 9,000 Iraqis applied for refugee status in Sweden in 2006, nearly four times as many as in 2005.

In a newspaper interview, two Swedish ministers said there needed to be "solidarity" among EU member states.

"Sweden can help many of them, but Sweden cannot help all of them," the ministers said.

EU Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmstroem and Migration Minister Tobias Billstroem told Sweden's Svenska Dagbladet newspaper their government wanted "increased joint responsibility and joint rules" on immigration for EU countries.

Officials say 80 to 90% of Iraqi asylum requests made in Sweden since January 2006 have been approved.

Sweden's immigration authority expects the number of Iraqis applying for asylum to double in 2007.

Iraqis are drawn to Sweden because of its generous refugee policy and because many of their relatives fled there in the 1990s.

Nearly 80,000 Iraqis now live in Sweden, making them the second-largest group of immigrants behind the Finns.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have fled Iraq since the US-led invasion of their country in 2003. The majority have fled to Syria, Jordan and Iran.




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