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Syria to take 181 stranded Palestinian refugee -UN

Written by: Staff
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GENEVA, Apr 25 (Reuters) Syria has agreed to take in 181 Palestinian refugees who have been stranded at the Iraq-Jordanian border for more than a month after fleeing insecurity in Baghdad, the United Nations said today.

''We are grateful that the Syrian government is offering a solution to the group which has been camping since March 19 at Trebil border point, just inside Iraq,'' said William Spindler, spokesman at the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

It was not yet clear when they would be moved to Syria, but the agency hoped for a smooth transfer, he told a news briefing.

The original group of 89 Palestinian refugees, nearly half of them children, was joined by nearly 100 more refugees over the last weeks, Spindler said.

At the weekend, another 50 Palestinians arrived at the Iraq-Jordanian border from Baghdad but were stopped at the Iraqi side and were prevented from joining the group of 181, he added.

Jordanian authorities, fearful of a large influx from among the 34,000 Palestinian refugees estimated to be living in Iraq, closed the border after the first busload of 89 Palestinians arrived. It remains closed to Palestinian refugees, according to UNHCR spokeswoman Astrid ven Genderen Stort.

UNHCR had voiced concern over the fate of the refugees, who were staying in the harsh desert climate in ''pretty dire'' conditions.

It stood ready to assist the group, who once in Syria will fall under the responsibility of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Stort said.

REUTERS CH VC1648

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