Iraqi Refugees Spurn Government Call to Come Home

Iraqi refugees in Egypt have turned down a government offer to lure them to return home.

The snub came following a call by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who has offered financial incentives to help the returning refugees resettle.

Maliki has promised to pay for travel and accommodation and retrieve property of the returnees in case it has been confiscated or being occupied by others.

But only 240 Iraqis of more than 100,000 currently living in Cairo alone have returned.

Speaking to Azzaman on the strict condition of anonymity, the refugees said those who had opted to return had serious problems with their resident permits and have had all their savings already spent.

One Iraqi refugee in Cairo said both the U.S. and the Iraqi government have lost their credibility and it has become really hard to trust anything they say.

"We cannot believe their claims that conditions are safe. Our house is gone and our relatives staying behind give us a totally different picture of the situation," the refugee who did not wish his name be revealed for security reasons said.

Another refugee who asked to be only identified as "Abu Ammar" said he felt safe in Egypt and had no intention of returning.

"Iraq has turned into something like a no man's land. It no longer belongs to its people," said one refugee.

Millions of Iraqis have fled the country in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of 2003. The U.N. Refugee Agency estimates that nearly four million Iraqis have escaped the terror and insecurity U.S. occupation has caused.

The agency says nearly two million more are refugees in their own country. These internally displaced Iraqis have fled for their lives inside the country as U.S. occupation troops and the Iraqi army proceed with their military operations and ongoing invasions of cities and towns.

Marauding militias operating under the nose of U.S. occupiers and Iraqi troops are also to blame for the upsurge in insecurity.

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