United Nations staff register Iraqi refugees in Syria. Ramzi Haidar photo.
According to Ken Bacon who works with refugees:
That is a welcome change. The Bushies liked to obscure the fact that their invasion and occupation had displaced some 20 percent of the Iraqi population. When we visited the region in 2006, an obvious feature of life in Jordan and Syria, as yet largely unmarked by Western reporting, was the flood of Iraqi refugees set in motion by the war. They are still there -- and huge numbers of people are still displaced inside the country as well. It is hard to envision peace when so many people have no settled homes and communities.
Refugee returns are currently a political football in Iraq. According to a report by Refugees International, the al-Maliki government wants to declare the refugee problem is over whether it is or not. It has offered transportation from Jordan and Syria for those willing to return and aims to close down its record of "internally displaced persons" this year. But returns are still rare.
The occupation has made -- or allowed the emergence of -- an Iraq segregated by sect and ethnicity. Individual families became flotsam in the great sorting.
The U.S. has an ongoing obligation to fund efforts to enable all these people to get settled again. At the end of 2008, the U.N. appealed for $547 million to help Iraqis inside and outside the country. So far the appeal is falling short amid the world financial downturn. The least the U.S. can do is fund it generously.
I bet he'll do well here, like millions of immigrants before him. Too bad we had to tear up his country to push him to this decision.