Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Iraq's Refugee Crisis

The Education for Peace in Iraq Center has just released an interview with Advocate Sean Garcia of Refugees International. EPIC talked with Mr. Garcia following his return from a month-long visit to Amman, Damascus and Beirut, where he witnessed the alarming challenges facing Iraqi refugees and their host nations with no relief in sight.

Despite the role that U.S. actions have played in creating the crisis, the Bush administration has failed to even acknowledge it as a serious humanitarian emergency. As recently as last week, the State Department’s weekly report on Iraq does not even include a line-item on emergency relief for displaced Iraqis.

Here is a brief excerpt. The complete interview can be found here.

"epic: How have Iraqi refugees been received by the governments and locals of neighboring countries?

Sean: It differs from country to country. In general, their reception by the locals in all three locations is still somewhat warm, but their welcome is quickly being worn out. For example we heard complaints from many Syrians about Iraqi refugees who are draining limited economic resources. They told us that they feel for Iraqi refugees and their difficult situation but they do not want any more to come. In Jordan, we found a similar level of sympathy, but they too complained about Iraqi refugees driving-up real estate prices and overwhelming the school systems. So the local populations are getting fed-up with the stresses that the refugees are putting on their economy.

At the government level we found varying responses. In Syria, Iraqi refugees are still welcome, but only for a limited time. The Syrian government lets people into the country but only grants three month visas. They are also scaling back the availability of free public services to Iraqi refugees. For example, in January 2005 the government said that it can no longer provide Iraqis with free healthcare, as it does for the entire Syrian population.

Jordan has gotten a lot more extreme. We have been hearing lately that the Jordanian government is increasingly closing its borders, and that men between the ages of 18-35 have been turned away due to terrorist concerns. Because the three hotel bombings in Amman in November 2005 were perpetrated by Iraqi citizens, Jordan has decided to eliminate worry by labeling Iraqi men between the ages of 18-35 as terrorists. This is a huge problem because we are finding that inside Iraq men between these ages are the greatest targets of violence..."

No comments:

Clicky Web Analytics