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Yemen to repatriate Iraqis

SANAA, Yemen, July 11 (UPI) -- Yemen will underwrite the costs of repatriating tens of thousands of Iraqi residents who want to return home.

The official news agency Saba reported Sunday the new arrangement would be coordinated with the Organization of International Immigration. Under an agreement concluded between the Ministry and the OII, the Yemeni government and the OII would buy travel tickets for those wishing to return to Iraq. Under the agreement the Yemeni government will also exempt Iraqi residents from any immigration fines. Iraqis who have financial obligations to Yemenis will receive assistance if they want to depart Yemen for Iraq.

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While Yemeni government officials estimate the number of "official" and "unofficial" Iraqis currently in Yemen was as many as 30,000, there are only about 15,000 Iraqis legally registered to reside in Yemen. Many Iraqis immigrated to the country after the Yemeni authorities offered exemptions from entrance visas and residency fees.

In the wake of the recent murder of Egypt's ambassador to Baghdad Yemen is denying any intentions or plans to appoint an ambassador to Iraq in the near future.

Pakistan is involved in a similar repatriation scheme for Afghans displaced from their homeland since the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but Islamabad is being less forthcoming with assistance.

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