Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What the Bush Administration Owes Iraq's Refugees

Noah Merrill, Electronic Iraq. 19 February 2007

The United States has announced that it will accept 7,000 Iraqi refugees who have fled their country's catastrophe. In addition, the US will be contributing $18 million toward the the $60 million UNHCR is trying to raise this year to support Iraqis who have been internally displaced as well as those forced to flee to other countries in the region, most notably Jordan and Syria.

These steps, small as they are, are welcome. But the nature of this offer, and the comments surrounding it, highlight fundamental deficiencies in the approach of those in the US government most involved in addressing this crisis. A report by the BBC cites a Jordanian government spokesperson stating the obvious: 7,000 people is less than 1% of the minimum estimated population of 750,000 Iraqis now living in Jordan. The actual number is widely believed to be higher still. Another million or more Iraqis are now estimated to be living in Syria and many thousands have fled to other countries throughout the region.

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