Washington : The US plans to receive its first 59 refugees from the Iraq conflict in the coming weeks, the first step to accept up to 7,000 refugees.
The Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday it would accept the "most vulnerable Iraqi refugees – such as those whose lives may be in jeopardy because they worked for coalition forces."
The department said it had completed screening of more than 300 cases involving more than 700 Iraqis, and said the US "must be mindful of the security risks associated with admitting refugees from war-torn countries – especially countries infiltrated by large numbers of terrorists."
According to the United Nations refugee agency, more than 2.2 million Iraqis have fled the war, violence and chaos in their country since the US-led war began in March 2003. Up to 1.5 million Iraqis fled to neighbouring Syria, 750,000 to Jordan, another neighbour, and 80,000 to Egypt.
Another two million people are internally displaced in Iraq from the violence, the UN says.