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U.S. admits more Iraqi refugees

September 05, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Nearly 530 Iraqi refugees were admitted to the United States last month, a huge bump from July but still far short of the number needed to fulfill the Bush administration's pledge to accept 2,000 by the end of September.

The 529 Iraqis allowed onto U.S. soil in August -- more than in all of the previous 11 months combined -- brought to 719 the number admitted in the current budget year, which runs from last October to Sept. 30, according to an internal State Department document.

Officials said the sharp rise -- only 57 Iraqis were admitted in July -- was a sign that efforts to speed up the processing of Iraqi refugees were working.

Among those are an increase in the number of people conducting security screenings and an easing by some countries of exit requirements for refugees, they said.

An estimated 50,000 Iraqis are fleeing their war-ravaged country each month, and there are 2 million to 2.5 million such refugees, according to advocacy groups.

Kristele Younes of Refugees International said the August figures were encouraging, but noted that they were well below the numbers needed to reach the 2,000 goal this month.

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