Friday, December 01, 2006

Iraq's Refugee Crisis

Refugees International (RI), a respected refugees advocacy group, has just posted a brief survey documenting the human costs of displacement and the lack of an adequate international response. They echo the sentiments of policy experts such as Ken Pollack and Dan Byman, noting that the violence in Iraq is creating a refugee crisis that is exporting instability to the entire region.

Every Iraqi who can, has already left or as an Iraqi journalist chillingly puts it:
"Iraqis who are unable to flee the country are now in a queue, waiting their turn to die."
RI recommends that the US lead an international initiative to support Middle East countries hosting Iraqi civilians, and that donors increase support to UNHCR. If allowed to continue unchecked, the refugee crisis can only continue to grow as a threat to the Middle East.

RI has also posted several stories of Iraqi refugees that are truly heart-wrenching; Putting a human face on a crisis that has thus far been represented mainly by figures in the morning news. Here is one story in full:
"In August 2006, Ali was driving from Beirut to Baghdad and was stopped by a militant group near Fallujah.He was kidnapped when his Iraqi papers were reviewed and identified him as a Shi’ite religious leader.He was then sold to a Sunni militia, where he awaited execution with dozens of other Shi’a, told by his captors that killing a Shi’a got them closer to heaven.After two months in captivity, the Iraqi National Guard raided the compound, freeing Ali.He returned to Lebanon in November of this year to reunite with his family, who were told that he had been killed.Suffering from mental trauma, Ali can not work.Nada is beginning beauty school to support the family, and they hope to raise $10,000 to buy fake documents to move to Europe.In the meantime, they live in a small apartment in Beirut, and lack electricity because they cannot afford it.Their two children are in school thanks to the generosity of neighbors who are taking collections to pay for uniforms and school supplies."

No comments:

Clicky Web Analytics