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Iraq Transition

U.N. wants $60M to help scattered Iraqi refugees

Story Highlights

• U.N. estimates 3.7 million Iraqis displaced
• 300,000 displaced just since November says U.N.
• About 2,000 a day arriving in Syria alone
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- As up to 50,000 Iraqis flee their homes every month, the U.N.'s refugee agency said Monday that it will seek $60 million this year to help the roughly 3.7 million people displaced by violence in the war-ravaged nation.

The problem is larger than mere displacement, a U.N. news release states, as women are increasingly forced to resort to prostitution and reports of child labor problems are on the rise.

Also, in Syria, where hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are seeking refuge, about 30 percent of Iraqi children are not in school and more than 10 percent of Iraqi families are headed by women.

Many Iraqis were displaced before the United States launched the Iraq war in 2003, but "increasing numbers of Iraqis are now fleeing escalating sectarian, ethnic and generalized violence," according to the Web site of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (Watch Iraqis struggle to do their jobs amid constant danger Video)

The office estimates about 1.7 million Iraqis are currently displaced within the country, while another 2 million have fled to neighboring nations. The UNHCR estimates that 2.3 million people will be internally displaced by year's end.

In 2006 alone, almost 500,000 Iraqis fled to other areas inside the country, the UNHCR estimated.

About 300,000 refugees have been displaced both internally and externally just since November, according to UNHCR reports. About 2,000 a day were arriving in Syria and about 1,000 a day were arriving in Jordan, according to a November report.

In a nation of about 26 million, "the current exodus is the largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948," according to the UNHCR Web site.

"The longer this conflict goes on, the more difficult it becomes for the hundreds of thousands of people displaced, and the communities that are trying to help them -- both inside and outside Iraq," U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a Monday news release. "The burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous."

According to UNHCR estimates, there are between 500,000 and 1 million refugees in Syria; about 700,000 in Jordan; about 80,000 in Egypt; and about 40,000 in Lebanon. Turkey is hosting an unknown number of Iraqis, the news release states.

A primary objective of the UNHCR program will be to help 200,000 of the most vulnerable refugees located predominantly in urban areas like Amman, Jordan, and Damascus, Syria.


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An Iraqi girl fills water at a refugee camp in the Shula district in Baghdad in 2006.

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