Spain: Iraqis among refugees refused asylum

World Refugee Day is recognised on 20 June every year to support the world's 40 million refugees and asylum seekers.

Madrid, 20 June (AKI) - All 1600 Iraqi refugees who sought asylum in Spain in 2007 were rejected by the government, according to a report released by a refugee rights group.

The Spanish Commission of Refugee Aid (CEAR) says Spain granted only 204 people political asylum in 2007, after receiving 7,662 requests from refugees.

In its annual report released ahead of the United Nations' World Refugee Day on Friday, CEAR said Spain refused to offer international protection to 97 percent of asylum applicants.

Of those who applied for asylum, 340 obtained temporary protection, while nearly 6,000 had their applications rejected.

After Colombians, Iraqis were the second largest group that sought asylum in Spain, with 1,598 requests last year.

No Iraqi refugee was granted political asylum when sought through diplomatic channels such as embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East.

Meanwhile, there were 38,286 asylum seekers in the European Union from war-torn Iraq in 2007, said the report.

Last month, Spain's vice-president Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega accused the Italian government of racism and xenophobia after issuing a number of security measures, including an electoral pledge to clamp down on illegal immigration and crime.

Spain initially pledged its support for the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, but withdrew its 1,300 soldiers after 191 people were killed in the Madrid train bombings in March 2004.

According to Refugees International, there are nearly five million Iraqi refugees and of that total 2.4 million are internally displaced inside Iraq, while the rest have fled the country.

Many of the refugees live in the Middle East, mainly in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iran and Lebanon.


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