Thursday, May 08, 2008

Smugglers' Paradise, Refugee Hell

To experts and historians, the Iraq Refugee Crisis is unprecedented. With well over 4 million Iraqis either internally displaced or forced to leave the country, the tales of horror and suffering are countless. As one Iraqi woman put it:

"If someone could describe what it is like to live in hell you would understand, than the world would understand what it is like to live in Baghdad. Every time somebody goes out you wonder if he or she will return. Every time a girl goes out you do not know if she will return or if she will be abducted, raped or murdered. It is like in hell."

For Iraqis, living in hell does not end when some of them seek refugee in neighboring countries. Many of them live in harsh conditions and faced by lack of legal status, work permits, and international support, they are heavily dependent on their own savings for financial support. In order to change this reality, Iraqis seek to relocate to other countries where they could enjoy better lives. One of the most popular destinations is Sweden. Getting to Sweden is not easy and once an Iraqi decides to get out of hell, hell will become paradise. Sadly, it is a paradise for smugglers not the Iraqi refugees. It is a paradise because it is a $300 million dollars industry for the smugglers.

EPIC came across a report that details the difficult journey of vulnerable and desperate Iraqi refugees from Syria to Sweden. The report was produced by the Kaliber radio show, an investigative journalism program on Swedish Radio. According to the report, the cost of smuggling one person is around $12000-15000 and despite this large amount of money, the refugees go through life-threatening experiences to reach their dream destination. Looking back at his experience, one refugee said "If I knew that the way would be so difficult, I would never have had taken this way. I might as well have got killed home in Iraq."

Click here to read entire report.

We find this report appalling and we invite you to join us in calling for increased support for the Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries and inside Iraq as well. The need for supporting these refugees is fiercely urgent as discussed by prominent Iraq scholars and NGO representatives during the Iraq Action Days.

You could help end such horrible stories by calling your Congress members and urging them to provide more support for vulnerable Iraqis and by supporting EPIC’s work.

Together we can make the vulnerable be in paradise before they go through hell.

Photo Caption:
An elderly Iraqi refugee sleeps rough on the streets of Amman, Jordan. Even if Iraqis manage to flee the violence in their own country, they often face hardships in neighboring nations. Image Courtesy: © Dana Hazeen/IRIN

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is unbelievable. Shouldn't states and governments make sure dangers like these are not what a refugee will endure while trying t reach a safe place?

I have already shared this story with friends and they are as shocked as I am.

Clicky Web Analytics