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UAE flies home second batch of Iraqi refugees in Pakistan

posted on 22/08/2004: 722 views

A total of 145 Iraqi refugees who had lived in Pakistan for years were flown home aboard two C-130 transport planes provided by the UAE Air Force. The repatriation came upon instructions of H.H. President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and follow up of Lt. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Deputy Crown Prince and Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces.

The two planes left a Rawalpindi air base this morning bound for the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Four of the returnees were in jail in Pakistan. The repatriation was arranged by Ali Mohammed Al Shamsi, UAE Ambassador to Pakistan in the presence of Satea Al Taei, Iraq's Charge d'Affaires here, and Richard Oanziger and Chris Mehl, representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Red Cross.

The UAE had pledged to offer an urgent assistance to the refugees in coordination with the Pakistani government. The initiative was in response to appeals by the IOM and the Red Cross and a continuation of the trend set by the UAE President to support international organisations. In a statement to "WAM,” Al Shamsi said the Sheikh Zayed's gesture aimed at alleviating the suffering of the Iraqi refugees and was part of UAE's charity and humanitarian bid to help Iraqi people restore their country's infrastructures and provide health care.

He said his embassy had faced no major obstacles in arranging the repatriation operation except that with regard to getting the refugees assembled from dispersed places in Pakistan. Iraqi envoy Satea Al Taei said his countrymen were thankful to Sheikh Zayed and other UAE Rulers for their humanitarian gesture at a time when Iraq is going through difficult times. He pointed out that today's operation put an end to the suffering of Iraqis in Pakistan, some of whom, he added, had spent 17 years in exile. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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