Peacekeeping: Iran the Hospitable

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October 17, 2006: Iran is still running one of the largest refugee operations in world. But the Iranian refugee burden has been greatly reduced by the war on terror. In 2001, Iran hosted 2.3 million Afghan and 250,000 Iraqi refugees. The Afghans were those who had fled, first the Russian invasion, then the civil war and Taliban. The Iraqis were those fleeing Saddam's terror. Since 2002, and the fall of the Taliban, about two-thirds of the Afghan refugees have returned home. Since 2003, some 80 percent of the Iraqis have gone home. Most of the Iraqis and Afghans who have remained in Iran, have done so because they have developed, or already had, family or economic ties there. This is a common pattern with large refugee populations that have been in exile for a long time. The Afghans in Iran had been there, in some cases, for twenty years. The Iraqis were largely Shia Arabs who fled after losing the fight against Saddam in 1991. Iran would like to get rid of all these refugees. The Afghans provide help for smugglers, especially drug smugglers, from Afghanistan. The Iraqi refugees increase the number of Arabs in Iran's oil producing region. The Iranians would prefer to have more ethnic Iranians living on top of the oil.

 


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