Friday, February 13, 2009

FEATURE-Iraqi refugees in Syria reluctant to return

"DAMASCUS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Iraqi musician Abdel Razaq al-Ghazawi, who sought refuge in neighbouring Syria from his country's raging conflict, returned home last year after hearing about a fall in the violence.

Within weeks, disillusioned by Iraq's continued insecurity and what he saw as creeping intolerance, he crossed the border back to Syria where he scrapes a living as a refugee.

"I found out that security has not improved enough. The spread of religion has also made life intolerable," said Ghazawi, who trained as an orchestra conductor in Britain.

"Artists and intellectuals no longer have a place in the new Iraq," said Ghazawi as he waited for his turn to collect rice and flour rations at a United Nations centre.

Ghazawi was one of millions who fled the upheaval ushered in by the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. The bulk of them went to Syria, which took in over a million Iraqi refugees, and Jordan, where up to 700,000 fled......"

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