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BorderWatch:Syria
Archive: October 2007
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Syria's New Visa Restrictions Hit Displaced Iraqi Families
10/09/2007 4:07 PM ET
Iraqi refugees queue in their cars at the Al-Tanaf border crossing with Iraq, northeast of Damascus, 20 September 2007.
Louai Beshara/AFP.
Iraqi refugees queue in their cars at the Al-Tanaf border crossing with Iraq, northeast of Damascus, 20 September 2007.

Displaced Iraqis are streaming from Syria back to Baghdad, locals report, as Damascus imposes visa restrictions on Iraqis.

IraqSlogger sources were unable to estimate the volume of traffic, but report that the price of the trip in the GMCs that usually make the Damascus-Baghdad run has spiked up to two-fold.

While the trip from Damascus was around $50 to $75 before Syria moved to impose visa restrictions last wek, the journey now costs over $100, according to sources in Syria and Iraq.

This will be quite a lot of money for displaced families, many of whom are seeing their resources dwindle in exile.

Earlier, Syria allowed Iraqis to enter the country relatively generously, but new regulations require visas for entry, and the authorities have indicated that visas will be issued only to select professionals. The restrictions were relaxed at first for Ramadan, but have been put into place before the end of the Muslim holy month.

Slogger residents report that the most common destinations for returning Iraqis are the districts in the west of the city such as Ghazaliya, Ameriya, and Mansour.

These are known as "Sunni areas," and many if not most of the returnees will indeed be Sunni Arabs. Sunnis are overrepresented among the displaced, as compared to their estimated proportions in the Iraqi population as a whole.

However, it bears noting that but it bears noting that minority Shi'a populations were also "cleansed" from these "Sunni" districts by extremist sectarian militias, many of them fleeing to Syria among other areas.

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