GENEVA, Switzerland, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- The United Nations said Friday Belgium's decision to host nearly 36 Iraqi refugees was a positive step in resettlement efforts for displaced Iraqis.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees representative Andrej Mahecic said several single mothers and their children were among the first batch of refugees to whom he Belgian government offered sanctuary, a U.N. release said.
Mahecic told reporters in Switzerland the Belgian government will also allow an estimated 11 Palestinian refugees to relocate from a refugee camp on the Syria-Iraq border to Belgium sometime this month.
More than 1.5 million Iraqis are living outside Iraq after being displaced by violence in their country. An additional 2 million Iraqi nationals are also displaced within Iraq, the United Nations said.
"On a global level, there is still a huge gap between resettlement needs and resettlement places," Mahecic said, adding there "is thus considerable scope for expanding resettlement in the European Union."