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In 2006, more than 500,000 Iraqis fled their homes and moved to other parts of the country, contributing to what is now estimated as 1.7 million people displaced within Iraq by the war, according to a new U.N. report.

The U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees said Monday that at least 2 million other Iraqis have fled to nearby countries.

Combined, the refugee agency said, those figures amounted to one in every eight Iraqis being displaced internally or externally by the war.

“The longer this conflict goes on, the more difficult it becomes for the hundreds of thousands of people displaced and the communities that are trying to help them — both inside and outside Iraq,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in announcing the report.

“The burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous. It is essential that the international community support humanitarian efforts to help the most vulnerable people.”

Between 40,000 and 50,000 people in Iraq flee their homes each month, officials said.

The report was released on the same day the refugee agency launched a $60 million effort aimed at helping the refugees and internally displaced affected by the Iraq war.

The money will be used for “protection and assistance programs” for Iraqis both within Iraq and in neighboring countries.

The report authors conclude that “unremitting violence in Iraq will likely mean continued mass internal and external displacement affecting much of the surrounding region.”

The report also called the situation the “largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of Palestinians afer the creation of Israel in 1948.”

According to the UNHCR, the estimated number of displaced Iraqis in other countries include: up to 1 million in Syria; 700,000 in Jordan; 80,000 in Egypt; and 40,000 in Lebanon.

Turkey has many Iraqi refugees, but the UNHCR could not provide an estimate.

According to Iraqi media reports, richer families in Iraq have been seeking to avoid becoming refugees by buying foreign travel visas on the black market.

The price for a black market visa to European countries is now as high as $15,000.


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