Despite US Troop Surge, Number of Iraqi Refugees in EU Nearly Doubles

An Iraqi refugee that has just returned from Syria covers her face with her passport as she waits to collect government aid in Baghdad, Iraq, in this Nov. 29, 2007 file photo. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
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Brussels, Belgium (AP) United Nation's statistics show asylum requests from Iraqis to the European Union nearly doubled last year despite a sharp reduction in violence in the country.

There were more than 38,000 applications in 2007, making Iraqis the single largest group seeking refuge in the EU. In 2006 there were fewer than 20,000.

The U.N. high commissioner for refugees report found that nearly one in five persons applying for asylum in the EU last year came from Iraq. That made it the primary source country of asylum seekers in Europe for the second year in a row.

The report says about 17,000 Iraqis were referred to the United States for resettlement.

But far more Iraqis, some 2 million, have fled to neighboring nations, mainly Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt.

An additional 2.5 million remain internally displaced within Iraq.