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Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'Iraq's appalling record of political killings and torture is well known in Britain, yet we often seem to forget that these abuses are directly linked to asylum applications.'

As with most groups fleeing persecution, the vast majority of Iraqis stay close to home. Only 1-2 fleeing to neighbouring Iran.

The majority of Iraqi asylum seekers in 2000 were given permission to stay in the UK, but many recent applicants have been refused due to Home Office bureaucracy. Applicants in the government's dispersal programme in particular often struggled to find legal advice or translators before the deadlines by which they were required to make their claims.

The six countries from which most UK asylum applicants fled in 2000 all have appalling human rights records. Applicants from Iraq, Iran, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, Somalia and Afghanistan made up nearly half of the total.

Country of Applicant; Iraq - Applications Jan-Nov 2000, 6,410; Total Applications 1999, 1,800

Country of Applicant; Federal Republic of Yugoslavia- Applications Jan-Nov 2000, 6,215; Total Applications 1999, 14,185

Country of Applicant; Sri Lanka - Applications Jan-Nov 2000, 5,455; Total Applications 1999, 5,125

Country of Applicant; Afghanistan - Applications Jan-Nov 2000, 4,740 ; Total Applications 1999, 3,980

Country of Applicant; Iran - Applications Jan-Nov 2000, 4,650; Total Applications 1999, 1,320

Country of Applicant; Somalia - Applications Jan-Nov 2000, 4,385; Total Applications 1999, 7,495

Final figures for asylum claims in 2000 due to be released on Thursday 25 January will confirm Iraq's place as the source of the largest number of applicants and the presence - if not the order - of the other five countries at the top of this list.

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