|Saturday, 01 March 2003|
GENEVA, Friday (AFP) - The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Friday said it was putting into place plans to help up to 70,000 non-Iraqis living or working in Iraq to return home in the event of war.
The IOM is also working on contingency plans to transport about 205,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Iraqi border areas to camps in neighbouring countries, spokeswoman Niurka Pineiro said.
Most of the 70,000 migrant workers in Iraq would initially go to Jordan. IOM will set up and run transit sites in neighbouring countries.
While the IOM's contingency plans focus on third country nationals in Iraq, it is also looking at the situation of up to 12.3 million other migrants of nearly 20 nationalities working in the Gulf region, Pineiro said. They mostly come from India, Egypt, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
"In the worst case scenario, some of these people would also want to return home," she told reporters.
During the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis, IOM repatriated about 218,000 migrant workers from Kuwait and Iraq, mostly to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Egypt, Sudan, Vietnam, Philippines, Iran, Pakistan and Yemen.
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