Northern Iraq seen as safe for repatriations of asylum seekers

Refugee authorities in Switzerland have given the go-ahead for unsuccessful asylum seekers from the Kurdish region of northern Iraq to be sent home.

This content was published on September 7, 2000

The refugee appeals commission said on Thursday that forced repatriations of people whose asylum requests had been rejected was now acceptable. It added, however, that each case should be treated individually.

The commission said the two parts of northern Iraq, controlled by the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, could be regarded as "de facto" countries.

However, it added that the region could not offer effective protection to people from other parts of Iraq who sought refuge there.

The commission said there was no major danger facing those who returned to northern Iraq from Switzerland, providing they were not being sought by the central government in Baghdad.

It repeated that people trying to leave northern Iraq to seek asylum in Switzerland would continue to be rejected.

In June, the federal office for refugees rejected an appeal by a group of Iraqi Kurds not to be sent back to the region.

There are about 4,300 Iraqi nationals in Switzerland, but only about a third have been granted refugee status.

swissinfo with agencies

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