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[casi] Iraq refugees 'deportation plan'

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Date: 24 November, 2003
Iraq refugees 'deportation plan'
Asylum seeking family
Mr Blunkett says northern Iraq is "generally overwhelmingly safe" Iraqi asylum
seekers may be deported under new government proposals, it has been reported.

The home secretary told the Independent that Kurdish-run northern Iraq is
"generally overwhelmingly safe".

David Blunkett's plans could prove controversial with the current instability
in Iraq and could face serious US opposition.

Some 14,000 Iraqis applied for asylum in the UK last year, with a small
proportion returning voluntarily.

Some have returned voluntarily but Mr Blunkett wants to make repatriation to
the north compulsory so that Iraqis can help with the country's
reconstruction, the newspaper said.


He was quoted in the Independent as saying: "I would like to do that because I
would like those people to be able to contribute to rebuilding the country.

"They came here on the premise they were threatened with death and torture.

"When you are no longer threatened I think there is a moral obligation to
return and assist in the rebuilding of the country."

He said he was in talks with the US administration over the proposals, the
newspaper said.

The US is reluctant to declare any part of Iraq available to anyone except
"volunteer returners".

When you are no longer threatened I think there is a moral obligation to
return and assist in the rebuilding of the country
David Blunkett But Mr Blunkett says he wants to "push ahead" with the
repatriation because the Kurdish-run region has separated itself from Saddam
Hussein's regime and was safe before the war.

He said returning asylum seekers would be given help to reintegrate and would
not be abandoned "on the tarmac".

He acknowledged problems around Mosul but described the north as "generally
overwhelmingly safe".

The government also plans to introduce measures to take the children of failed
asylum seekers into care if they refuse to leave the country.

Under the Home Office plan, parents would be told to take a paid-for
"voluntary" flight home.

If they refused they would lose their benefits and their children would be
taken into care, under the plan due to be announced on Wednesday.

But campaigners say the proposals may breach the Human Rights Act and could
lead to costly court cases if challenged.


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