US to let in 7,000 refugees from Iraq by next year

The Bush administration plans to allow about 7,000 Iraqi refugees to settle in the United States over the next year, a huge expansion of a program at a time when this country is facing international pressure to help some of the millions of refugees who have fled their battle-torn Mideast nation. The United States has allowed only 463 Iraq refugees into the country since the war began. A senior State Department official described the expanded program on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement later Wednesday. The administration also plans to pledge $18 million (€13.7 million) for a worldwide resettlement and relief program. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has asked for $60 million (€45.8 million) from nations around the world. Some 3.8 million Iraqis have fled their country since the war began in March 2003.