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WASHINGTON // The news today that nearly 100 Sudanese refugees in Iraq now are headed to Romania highlights the plight of a particularly vulnerable group: Those who were already refugees in Iraq when the war triggered the current crisis.

The 97 men, women and children fled Sudan in the late 1980s. While they fear a return to that troubled country, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said today, conditions in Iraq have hardly been much better.

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Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva, the Sudanese have suffered abuse, blackmail, eviction and assaults by militias. A total of 17 were killed between December 2004 and February 2005.

"Because of this targeting by the insurgent groups, the refugees tried to flee Iraq but were not successful," Redmond said. They were stranded in a camp outside Al Rutbah town in the Al Anbar desert, some 50 miles east of the Jordanian border.

"Here they were subject to severe weather conditions and harassment by militias," Redmond said.

The experience in some ways mirrors that of Palestinians in Iraq, a group that was seen as priviledged under Saddam but has since been targeted by militants. A coalition of refugee advocates reported last month that some 3,000 Palestinians remain stranded in three camps along the Iraqi-Syrian border.The coalition described each:

The Sudanese left their camp this morning for Amman, Jordan, from which they were to fly tonight to Romania. They are to be housed in an emergency transit center in Timosoara while waiting for resettlement applications to be processed.

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