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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 20:20 GMT
Iraqi refugees begin journey home
An Iraqi refugee holds his national flag before refugees board buses to return to Iraq from Damascus (27/11/2007)
Syria has had problems coping with 1.5 million refugees from Iraq
Hundreds of Iraqi refugees have left temporary shelter in Syria to return to their homes in Iraq.

About 800 people are travelling in a convoy of buses provided by the Iraqi government following two months of security improvements in Iraq.

But there are also reports that life has become increasingly hard for some of the 1.5 million refugees in Syria.

The Iraqi government hopes that if the convoy is successful, many more people will be encouraged to return to Iraq.

The convoy was seen off by a group of men singing and waving the Iraqi flag.

Those on board join the steady stream of refugees who have crossed the border back into Iraq in recent months.

Iraq's ambassador to Syria, Hassan Abdul Aziz, said people feel they can return because the security situation has improved.

"People are saying our situation is really getting better than before," he said. "No bombs, no people killing each other.

"That's why people decided to go back to Iraq, otherwise nobody will go back."

Money worries

Iraqi refugees sit in a bus waiting to return to Iraq from Damascus (27/11/2007)
The UNHCR says some of the refugees have run out of money

However, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said most of the refugees it spoke to are returning because they have run out of money or have been unable to renew their visas.

The organisation said that although it will help anyone wishing to return to Iraq, it is too early for large-scale repatriation to take place.

Syria has struggled to cope with the 1.5 million Iraqis who have sought refuge there and it has recently tightened visa rules for refugees.

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