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By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Foreign Service

Wednesday, December 5, 2007; Page A21

 BAGHDAD, Dec. 4 -- The Iraqi government on Tuesday urged some refugees not to go back to their homes yet, saying the country was unprepared to accommodate their return.

"The reality is that we cannot handle a huge influx of people," Abdul Samad al-Sultan, the minister of displacement and migration, said at a news conference to announce a joint plan with the United Nations to help returning Iraqis. "The refugees in some countries, we ask them to wait."

 The acknowledgment came as the Iraqi cabinet asked the United Nations for what the government called a final one-year extension of authorization for U.S.-led forces to stay in Iraq. But in a newly released video, insurgents threatened to kill a British hostage unless the United Kingdom withdrew its forces.


The world body estimates that 40,000 refugees and 10,000 internally displaced people have returned to their homes, primarily in the Baghdad area. But it said it was "not encouraging or promoting the return of refugees or IDPs."

Sultan, the minister of displacement and migration, said the Iraqi government has allocated $100 million to help returning families and an additional $10 million to provide food for them.