Monday, July 17, 2006

More refugees in a region already awash in displaced people

In one of the few comprehensive surveys of how many Iraqis have fled their country since the US invasion, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants said last month that there were 644,500 refugees in Syria and Jordan in 2005 — about 2.5 per cent of Iraq’s population. In total, 889,000 Iraqis had moved abroad, creating “the biggest new flow of refugees in the world”, according to Lavinia Limon, the committee’s president. Times (London), July 13, 2006

Last month when my partner and I were part of peace group of U.S. citizens meeting Iraqis in Jordan and Syria, the most important new insight we gained about the U.S. war on Iraq was that one hell of a lot of people were flooding into neighboring countries. The dry statistics cited above tell the story one way; read the whole article for a truly terrifying account of the sectarian infighting that war has unleashed. The headline encapsulates the story: "Baghdad starts to collapse as its people flee a life of death."

I've written before here about the pressures that a flood of Iraqi refugees are creating in Jordan.

The same US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants report cited by the London Times above concluded that Syria had absorbed about 350,000 Iraqi refugees.

That was before Israel started bombing Lebanon, sending thousands fleeing for their lives. Today this tidbit lurked deep in the news:

More than 90,000 people have fled from Lebanon into Syria since the beginning of the Israeli bombardment, Syrian government officials said Sunday. NY Times, July 17, 2006

Think what it would be like to have to run for your life with only what you could carry, not knowing if you'd ever be able to return to your home -- or whether your home would still be there if by chance you could come back. Then get off your duff and harass your Congresscritter to stop the U.S. from paying for both these wars.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Janinsanfran, thanks for stopping by Attempts. And thanks for leaving such a thoughtful and interesting comment on my most recent post. (If I get enough interesting comments, I might write a reply round-up; but certainly I thought your reply was about as good a one as I can think of.) It does make me curious as to what faith you follow!

All my best wishes -- dare I say prayers? -- for your loved ones in Lebanon.

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