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(RFE/RL) March 23, 2007 -- The UN's refugee agency says the number of Iraqis seeking asylum in Western countries rose by 77 percent in 2006 over the previous year.


But the 22,200 Iraqi asylum seekers in 2006 were well below the peak level of about 50,000 in 2002, the year before the U.S.-led invasion.


The UNHCR said the total number of people seeking asylum in industrialized countries dropped by 10 percent last year, marking a 20-year low.


Iraqis made up the largest group, followed by asylum seekers from China, Russia, and Serbia and Montenegro.


(Reuters, AFP)

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