London, Oct 7 (UNI) Only one in six Iraqi refugees is admitted in Britain and allowed to remain, official figures suggest triggering an international row over the government's approach.
The United Nations has become increasingly critical of the UK's position on asylum at a time when a growing number of Iraqis are fleeing their country.
Pointing to official figures which show that, of the 310 Iraqis who sought asylum in the UK in the second quarter of 2007, only 30 were allowed to stay on their first application and a further 25 were given leave to remain, the UN questioned the government's commitment to the majority of Iraqis seeking asylum in the UK.
Alongside his statement on interpreters, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will unveil details tomorrow concerning the drawdown of British troops in Iraq during 2008.
The UN called for the UK to do more to help Iraqis fleeing their country.
''The UN Refugee Agency hopes the UK will soon join other states with active resettlement programmes in extending protection and offering solutions to Iraqis who have fled the violence,'' The Observer quoted a UN spokesman as saying.
He warned that the government must back its commitment to the interpreters with action.
''More than grand statements are needed. Communities will have to come forward to provide homes. Iraqis often have big families, so it won't be a question of simply housing small families of two or three people in council flats,'' he said.
The figures also showed dramatic disparities between EU countries registering Iraqi claims. Some 9,300 applications, or almost half of all Iraqi applications during the first half of this year, were registered in Sweden, which already has a substantial Iraqi community, compared with a total of 580 in the UK.
Greece registered some 3,500 asylum claims from Iraqis between January and June 2007, compared with 1,400 during the whole of 2006. Spain and Germany recorded 1,500 and 820 applications respectively during the first half of 2007.
Despite the significant rise in the number of Iraqis claiming asylum in Europe, it is still a fraction of the number seeking refuge in countries near their homeland. An estimated 2.2 million Iraqis are spread across neighbouring countries such as Syria and Jordan. A further two million are displaced within Iraq.