As Iraq's bloodletting crystallizes into a civil war, the stampede of Iraqis fleeing their homes has accelerated so fast that U.N. officials now rank it as the region's biggest exodus in nearly 60 years. Since the war began nearly four years ago, about 2 million Iraqis have left the country and more than 1.6 million others have been
displaced. Most of the Iraqis have only made it as far as neighboring countries - Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon - but for members of the middle class, Sweden's liberal asylum laws and immigration regulations make it by far the most attractive destination in Europe for Iraqi refugees. Having granted asylum to 2,330 Iraqis in 2005, Sweden received nearly 9,000 refugees in 2006 and officials are now bracing for a possible 35,000 in 2007. More than 80,000 Iraqis already live in Sweden, forming the second largest immigrant group, after the Finns. The rapid increase in Iraqi immigrants is having a big impact on the communities where they settle.
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