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Baghdad Compiling Stats On Displaced Iraqis

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Displacement and Migration Minister Abdul-Samad Rahman Sultan says Baghdad is working closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to build a reliable database about Iraqi communities abroad, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

The work is to prepare for the national census in October.

The data will also include a breakdown of qualifications and educational levels.

Sultan said the goal is to encourage well-educated Iraqis to return home.

Sultan added that reliable statistics about Iraqis living in Europe are particularly lacking.

Azhar Abdul-Majid, the parliament's Displacement and Immigration Committee rapporteur, told RFI that she welcomes the ministry's decision since the government's only effort to help Iraqi refugees was in 2007, when it paid $25 million to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon to compensate for the strain that Iraqi refugees put on services in those countries.

The UNHCR estimates that more than 4.5 million Iraqis have been uprooted since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, including more than 2 million in neighboring countries, mainly Syria and Jordan.