Australia offers home to Iraq employees

April 9, 2008 at 1:49 PM
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CANBERRA, Australia, April 9 (UPI) -- The Australian government says it has decided not to leave Iraqi employees behind when the country brings its combat forces home later this year.

Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says all locally hired employees and their families will be eligible to settle in Australia, Voice of America reported Wednesday.

The government in Canberra wants to avoid a repeat of what happened after the Vietnam War ended when thousands of Vietnamese who worked for Australian and American forces were prosecuted or killed by the victorious North Vietnamese.

"We expect up to 600 Iraqis will be involved in this process," Fitzgibbon said. "We do feel we have a moral obligation to them, to resettle them here in Australia."

When senior Australian government ministers visited Iraq recently, their troops urged the government not to abandon Iraqi employees when combat units are withdrawn.

Iraqis who accept the resettlement offer will be subject to strict health and security checks, Voice of America said.

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