Syria and UN sign agreement to assess number of Iraqi refugees

October 21, 2007 22:09

Syria and the United Nations Development Programme signed an agreement Sunday to determine the number of Iraqi refugees in the country and their associated socio-economic effects, the UNDP said. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have fled violence in their country and currently reside in Syria, straining the resources of the Syrian government. Damascus has called for international assistance and recently tightened its visa requirements to stem the flow of refugees. The new project signed Sunday by Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad and the UNDP's representative in the country, Ali Zaatari, is expected to last 7 months and aims to "define the number, geographical distribution and socio-economic characteristics of displaced Iraqis in Syria," the UNDP said in a statement. The effort will be jointly financed by the UNDP, Denmark and the Syrian government, the group added. The study will suggest "operational responses" for national and international partners to mitigate the assessed development impact on Syria, according to the statement.

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