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Iraq's Kurdistan region sets quota for Syrian refugees: aid agencies

Syrian refugees cross the border into the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, August 19, 2013. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari
Syrian refugees cross the border into the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, August 19, 2013. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

GENEVA (Reuters) - Syrian refugees continue to stream over the border into northern Iraq, where the Kurdistan regional government has put in place a daily quota of 3,000, aid agencies said on Tuesday.

About 30,000 refugees, believed to be mainly Syrian Kurds, have poured into Iraq since Thursday, and up to 3,000 are lined up to cross on Tuesday, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said.

"The Kurdistan regional government authorities have put a daily quota for those refugees who will be allowed in. Today they will allow 3,000 persons in, but yesterday a similar quota of 3,000 was set but at the end of the day, 5,000 refugees were allowed to cross," Jumbe Omari Jumbe of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) told a news briefing in Geneva.

Asked about the reasons for the exodus, Jumbe said: "There is a perception that violence will increase against (Syrian) Kurds by various armed groups including al-Nusra."

UNHCR is aware of agreements between the border authorities on both sides, but has no specific information on numbers relating to any quotas, spokesman Dan McNorton said.

The sudden mass influx of Kurdish refugees from Syria into Iraq increases the likelihood that Iraq's Kurdish region will act to protect its kin across the border, an adviser to Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said on Monday.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Pravin Char)

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