updated 4/20/2008 1:09:16 PM ET 2008-04-20T17:09:16

A group of Palestinian refugees stranded on the Iraq-Syria border since 2006 flew to Chile Sunday under a resettlement plan sponsored by the Catholic Church in the South American country and the U.N. agency for refugees.

The group of 37, including 17 children, was the second to make the trip to Chile. Thirty-nine left in early April.

"It's a lovely day for me," said 45-year-old Youssef Darwish. "At last I will feel that I am a human being. But the sad thing is that I will leave behind my friends whom I lived with for two years."

A third and final group will leave at the end of this month. The 735 Palestinians fled the violence in Iraq in 2006 but were denied entry by Syria, leaving them stranded at a desert camp close to the border. Chile has agreed to take 117.

Syria is already home to an estimated 1.5 million Iraqi refugees and about 500,000 Palestinians.

On arrival in Chile, each of the refugees will receive a monthly stipend of $50, or about $500 per family, as well as free housing, health care and education for the children, until they are fully settled in.

During their first few weeks, they will begin learning Spanish, obtain residency documents and receive physicals.

Authorities also have pledged to find jobs for the refugees, who include tailors, plumbers and drivers.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments