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Destination UK: countries of origin
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2. Iraq
6. Iran
7. FRY
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In 2001 there were 3,450 applications for asylum in the UK from Iranians.

This was a significant drop on the previous year. During 2001 more than 800 Iranians were allowed to stay in the UK.

Country background:

Iran itself hosts the largest refugee population in the world at about two million more than half that figure are from Afghanistan. Refugees are increasingly seen as a strain on the country's resources.

Laws restricting their employment and the return of more than 100,000 people to Afghanistan took place in 2001.

While the US-led coalition conducted bombing raids in Afghanistan after September 11 Iran actually set up some refugee camps on the other side of the Aghan border.

In 1979 the monarchy was overthrown and an Islamic Republic was declared, in which religious clerics - headed by Ayatollah Khomeini - wielded political control. There followed an eight-year war against Iraq.

In 2000 victory of the liberals over the long-ruling conservative elite in parliamentary elections signalled social and political reform. The reform agenda was re-affirmed by elections in 2001.

There has also been a thawing in relations between Iran and Europe, although they are still very poor with the United States.

However, human rights organisations say that much still needs to change in Iran as they suspect that many of those executed for drug-related offences are actually political dissidents.

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