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Last Updated: Friday, 9 May, 2003, 23:32 GMT 00:32 UK
Iraqis evict Palestinian refugees
Baghdad streets
The agency fears the popular backlash against the Iraqi Palestinians

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has expressed concern that up to 90,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq could be evicted from their homes.

The Palestinian refugees enjoyed protection under Saddam Hussein, and Iraqi landlords were forced to charge them very low rents.

But since the fall of the regime, landlords have begun to evict their Palestinian tenants demanding higher rents.

A group of Iraqis attacked us. They said 'You're Palestinian.' They beat me and my father up
Evicted Palestinian

About 1,000 Palestinians have already been driven from their homes in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, the UNHCR said in a statement.

The agency also said that dozens of Iranian refugees had been turned out of their houses by local communities in southern Iraq.

Aid convoy

The evicted Palestinians are living on waste ground or in disused buildings around Baghdad, the UNHCR said, expressing fears of a growing backlash against the Palestinian community.

"I have two wounds here in my head," one of the evicted Palestinians told the BBC Arabic Service.

"A group of Iraqis attacked us. They said 'You're Palestinian.' They beat me and my father up. And we were about to leave our house because we had been given notice that we were evicted."

But the UNHCR said Palestinians had received much less help from the deposed regime than people imagine.

It is sending an aid convoy - including tents, blankets and cooking materials - to Baghdad to help the homeless Palestinians.

Many of the estimated 90,000 Palestinians in Iraq have been living there since the foundation of Israel in 1948.

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