civil war, what civil war...,
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At least the discussion of why...,
"A timetable for Iraqis to withdraw from Iraq":
so goes the punchline to a clever joke by an Iraqi cut-n-runner in Syria, reports the WaPo in an article on refugee conditions in Syria.
Over in Jordan there are 400,000-1,000,000 Iraqi "refugee-likes" living in legal limbo. Of that 1 million, a whole 800 are recognized as "refugees" and the UNHCR has recorded as many as 18,000 "asylum seekers". The UNHCR says it doesn't have the manpower to process just this segment of the refugee crisis, let alone the similar numbers waiting out the war in Syria.
Our close personal allies in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait - the wealthiest states in the region - have barred Iraqis from entering at all. And escaping the civl war to Jordan is getting more difficult, according to HRW:
Jordanian hospitality and tolerance toward Iraqis changed, however, after November 2005, when three Iraqi nationals killed 60 people by setting off bombs in three large hotels in Amman. Since the hotel bombings, Jordanian officials have stepped up immigration enforcement: turning away large numbers of Iraqis seeking entry at the border, making it harder for Iraqis inside Jordan to renew their visas and remain in legal status, and arresting Iraqis for working or residing illegally once they lose their legal right to remain in the country. As a result, Iraqis who manage to enter Jordan quickly lose their legal status and begin accruing fines of 1.5 Jordanian dinars (JD, equal to US$2) for each day that they remain in Jordan after their visas expire. For refugees with nowhere to go and limited sources of income, this quickly adds up to enormous sums that they are unable to pay. If the Jordanian police apprehend Iraqis who cannot pay the accumulated fines for overstaying their visas, the police deport them and deny them re-entry to Jordan for five years. ...
In 2003, the UN refugee agency initiated the temporary protection regime in Jordan and the surrounding region. Its purpose was to prevent all Iraqis who registered with the refugee agency from being deported to Iraq, based on temporary conditions of generalized violence in their home country. According to the TPR, UNHCR does not actually process registrants’ asylum claims, but rather provides them with “asylum seeker” cards, which are intended to ensure access to territory and temporary protection from deportation, but not to establish a refugee status per se or any rights to permanent residency in Jordan.
The situation is little better elsewhere:
Syria bears the greatest similarity to Jordan and shares with Jordan the bulk of the burden—hosting an estimated 450,000 Iraqis. Although Syria has generally been tolerant toward Iraqis, its tolerance, like Jordan’s, appears to be ebbing, and Syria, like Jordan, has been less than forthright in identifying refugees and asking for help on their behalf. Lebanon, which hosts an estimated 20,000 Iraqis, makes no allowance for refugees, provides no basis to allow them to regularize their status, and regularly detains Iraqis who may well have persecution claims in order to coerce them to “voluntarily” go home. Other countries that host significant numbers of Iraqis, such as Yemen and Egypt, have taken steps to restrict their entry. Generally, Iraqis throughout the Middle East remain unregistered, uncounted, unassisted, and unprotected.
Governments outside the region are also all too willing to look the other way to avoid recognizing the presence of Iraqi refugees in Jordan—and, by implication, acknowledging this dimension of the human costs of the war in Iraq. The United States and the United Kingdom, the two states most heavily committed militarily in Iraq, have paid relatively little attention to the regional human fallout precipitated largely by their military intervention in Iraq. Both states have close ties with Jordan. It should be in their interest to address the Iraqi refugee problem generated by the Iraq war before the massive refugee burden has a destabilizing effect on the region. Since the start of the war in 2003 until the beginning of 2006, the United States took only 12 UNHCR-referred Iraqi refugees from Jordan and the United Kingdom took none.
Nobody apparently knows how many have fled into Turkey, but those that have face the same situation. Are we doing enough? "In fiscal year 2006, just 202 Iraqi refugees were resettled in the United States."
"Nothing, and no one can end our nightmare. Only God can. Not Bush, not al-Maliki, not any one of those Arab rulers" sez an Iraqi refugee in Syria.
If we spent a fraction on refugee assistance as we're spending daily to confound the civil war (!!!), the Iraqis who prefer to wait out the upcoming genocide for the next decade could think of it as a particularly stressful holiday instead of as horrific nightmare. Of course, it would be too easy to help these particular Iraqis, so we'll probably continue doing too little and let them linger on, maybe to get sent back to the meatgrinder of a nation we've left for them.
Anytime some pundit gets uppity about "doing something" ask them what they're doing about the 3 million and rising uprooted Iraqis that will likely require long term assistance and a place to stay for the next decade or so.
:: posted by buermann @ 2006-11-29 13:08:41 CST |