Iraq Invites Refugees Home, but Home Is Gone

350K displaced in Iraq; US military begs Baghdad to build new housing
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Dec 16, 2007 5:35 PM CST
Iraqi refugees who have just returned from Syria wait to collect government aid in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007. About 20 buses carrying some hundreds of Iraqi refugees returned to Baghdad from...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Baghdad shocked Washington and the UN last month by inviting home 1.4 million refugees from Syria, the Washington Post reports. The UN warned against it, saying exiles would face poverty, but Iraq started a bus line to transport them back. Many found their homes looted and neighborhoods redrawn along sectarian lines—and with no official plan in place, they burdened relatives by moving in.

Baghdad nixed the bus line under international pressure, but Iraqis are still returning due to visa and money problems in Syria. The US military said that only new housing can help the country's 350,000 displaced people. "We have been asking, pleading with the government of Iraq to come up with a policy so that it's not put upon commanders on the ground," said a senior aide to Gen. David Petraeus.