updated 2/14/2007 12:09:19 PM ET 2007-02-14T17:09:19

The Bush administration plans to allow about 7,000 Iraqi refugees to settle in the United States over the next year, a huge expansion of a program at a time when this country is facing international pressure to help some of the millions of refugees who have fled their battle-torn nation.

The United States has allowed only 463 Iraq refugees into the country since the war began. A senior State Department official described the expanded program on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement later Wednesday.

The administration also plans to pledge $18 million for a worldwide resettlement and relief program. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has asked for $60 million from nations around the world.

Some 3.8 million Iraqis have fled their country since the war began in March 2003.

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