A REFUGEE charity is bracing itself for an influx of Iraqis fleeing war in their homeland.

Bromley Refugee Network (BRN) says flows of asylum seekers and refugees increase during and after a conflict.

Speaking as Allied troops launched blistering air and ground attacks on Iraq, BRN director Rob Cartridge hopes residents will welcome refugees to the borough.

Mr Cartridge said: "The vast majority, something like 95 per cent, of people who leave Iraq will go to neighbouring countries.

He added: "It's a myth that Britain and western Europe get the bulk of refugees."

Mr Cartridge, who came to the job in February from global charity War on Want, said: "In the main, the public are very positive and very helpful. My only fear is that there will be a backlash against the Muslim community."

Iraqis account for the third highest number of the estimated 3,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Bromley, the highest being Kosovans.

BRN works closely with the police, Bromley Racial Equality Council and other voluntary groups, offering advice on a range of issues including education, training and benefits.