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Nearly 4 million people were driven from their homes in 1993 - more than offsetting what the U.S. Committee for Refugees called a landmark year in which 1.5 million refugees returned to their own countries.

The committee, a private group, estimated Tuesday that 2.6 million people in Bosnia, Azerbaijan, Angola and Zaire had to flee last year but are still within their countries' boundaries.About 1 million Africans fled to other countries from Burundi, Togo, Liberia and Rwanda - and an additional 250,000 have left Rwanda in the current fighting.

During the year, about 1.5 million refugees returned from abroad to Afghanistan, Cambodia, Liberia and Ethiopia.

"Although 1993 was another landmark year for voluntary repatriation, it was also a year in which millions of others were forced to flee their homes as the flames of nationalism and ethnic strife were fanned in dozens of countries," said Roger F. Winter, director of the committee, in a statement on its world-wide survey for 1994.

Winter saw the right of asylum as more threatened than ever.

"Countries that have set the standard in refugee protection, including the United States and many European countries, are in the grip of an anti-foreigner, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee fever," he said.

He complained that, proportionately, countries other than the United States - notably Norway and Sweden - provide much more help for refugees.

"Clearly, the United States is not in a leadership role in this regard," he said.

In recent months, Americans have been concerned largely about refugees from Haiti.

"Relatively few Haitians managed to flee their country during 1993," the survey said, "as the United States clamped a Coast Guard cordon to prevent refugee boat departures and forcibly repatriated 2,329 Haitians interdicted at sea."

In many areas, especially in Africa, national boundaries are relics of colonial rule. Often they are not clearly marked, and local people ignore them, more concerned with ethnic and family connections than with borders drawn long ago in distant capitals.

But the committee pointed out that refugees who cross borders are entitled to international protection, unlike those who stay within them. It estimated that there were about 16.3 million international refugees - down from 17.6 million at the end of 1992 - compared with more than 25 million "internally displaced civilians."

The largest numbers of these internal refugees are in Sudan and South Africa, 4 million each, and half that many are in Mozambique and Angola. Bosnia, Liberia and Iraq were estimated to have a million or more each.

At the end of 1993, the survey found, the largest international refugee groups still consisted of 3.43 million Afghans, their country still torn by civil war, and 2.8 million Palestinians in camps and colonies set up after Arab-Israeli wars going back to World War II.

The countries with the largest population of foreign refugees were in Asia: Iran, with 1.9 million of its Afghan neighbors and Pakistan with 1.48 million of them.