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Last Updated: Monday, 3 December 2007, 18:03 GMT
Red Crescent confirms Iraq trend
An Iraqi worker unloads cardboard boxes from a bus carrying Iraqi returnees to Baghdad's international bus station on 9 November
Some of the returnees found it hard to make a living abroad
Up to 28,000 Iraqi refugees have returned home since mid-September, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent.

The figure is lower than that given by the Iraqi government, but it confirms a trend of refugees coming back.

The Red Crescent said people were responding to the improving security situation, especially around Baghdad.

But they are only a fraction of the more than 4m Iraqis who have been displaced since the US-led invasion of 2003 which overthrew Saddam Hussein.

'Not stable enough'

Different authorities vary in their estimates of the flow home.

The Iraqi government puts it at around 1,000 a day - most from Syria, where poorer Iraqis fled.

Richer Iraqis sought refuge in Jordan, and there is little sign of them returning.

WHERE IRAQIS HAVE FLED TO
Syria: 1,400,000
Jordan: 750,000
Gulf states: 200,000
Egypt: 100,000
Iran: 54,000
Lebanon: 40,000
Turkey: 10,000
Internally displaced: At least 2,000,000
Source: UNHCR (October 2007)

The UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR, estimates that about 45,000 Iraqis returned from Syria in October - the first month of the school year.

It says a survey it has carried out suggests Iraqis are leaving Syria because they are running out of money and because the Syrian authorities are making life harder for them.

It also says it does not believe Iraq is stable enough to make it safe to return to.

About half the Iraqis who fled their homes went to other parts of Iraq, and therefore are not viewed as refugees, but as displaced people.

"In Iraq, the security situation improved as a result of law enforcement, especially in Baghdad and other governorates," AFP quoted a Red Crescent statement as saying.

"Consequently, a significant number of externally displaced returned to Iraq," it said, although it added that the flow had decreased during November.

The Iraqi authorities have also been providing incentives for refugees to return, such as free bus rides from Syria.

They have also tried to encourage internally displaced Iraqis to return to their homes by offering families grants of $800.

Map showing Iraqi refugee migration



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