The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Iraqi refugees in Egypt fly back on Maliki's plane

Iraqi refugees in Egypt get a free flight to a very uncertain future:

BAGHDAD (AP) _ Several hundred Iraqi refugees flew home from Egypt on Monday on the Iraqi prime minister's plane, the first government-organized flight aimed at accelerating the return of Iraqis now that violence has waned.

Many of those returning on the free flight, however, said they had come back only because they were broke after years of living outside Iraq and still feared the dangers in their homeland.

"If I had more money, I would have stayed and never gone back," Abu Hussein, a 32-year-old Shiite merchant, said waiting to board at Cairo's airport. "We hear from other returnees that they had regret going back because there is still bombing, kidnapping and killing."

The International Organization of Migration says some 13,000 Iraqis have returned from nations in the region — a tiny proportion of the estimated 2.5 million who fled Iraq's turmoil after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Nearly 3 million more Iraqis have been displaced inside the country, the Switzerland-based humanitarian group says.

[From Iraqi prime minister gives refugees free flight home from Egypt, seeking to speed up return --]