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Pope Benedict launches appeal for Iraqi refugees

 Pope Benedict has launched an appeal to the international community for assistance for those forced to leave their homes as a result of the "dramatic situation" in Iraq. An estimated 600,000 Iraqi refugees are trapped in Syria. The Holy Father said: "My thoughts go today to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Syria, obliged to leave their country because of the dramatic situation that is being lived there," the Pope said. "Caritas-Syria is going all-out to assist them. However, I am launching an appeal to the sensitivity of private individuals, international organisations and governments so that they will make further efforts to address their most urgent needs." According to a report published by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees on 2 December, there are at least 1.6 million Iraqis internally displaced with at least another 1.6 million to 1.8 million in neighbouring states. "UNHCR estimates that there are some 700,000 Iraqis in Jordan; 500,000-600,000 in Syria; 100,000 in Egypt; 20,000 to 40,000 in Lebanon; 54,000 in Iran; and tens of thousands more within the region and further afield," the report said. Source: VIS