Growing Iraq Refugee Crisis

Last year Sweden accepted 25,000 Iraqi refugees, and over a million others are encamped in Jordan and Syria. There is considerable discussion in the American media concerning terrorism and destabilized conditions existing within Iraq, but few newspapers or television programs focus on the reality that about 15% of Iraq’s prewar population has fled. Unlike most European nations, Sweden accepts about 91% of applications for refugee status.

The unintended consequence of Bush’s war is not merely widespread killings within Iraq, but the departure of at least two million people who are now clustered in refugee camps. There are at least 1.2 million in Syria and 750,000 in Jordan. Numbers, but numbers that fail to tell the entire story. Iraq refugees in Jordan now constitute 15% of the population of that nation. What does the future hold for the refugees?

Despite Arab rhetoric about the plight of Palestinian refugees who fled Israel, few nations have welcomed the refugees and given them economic, social, or political opportunities. The present fighting in Lebanon refugee camps pits one Palestinian faction against another. Arab nations deplore Israel’s refusal to accept the return of refugees, but these same nations will not provide significant opportunities to the refugees in their countries. In one sense, George Bush and Arab nations share one thing in common – both are partially responsible for the plight of refugees, the American invasion has created a catastrophic problem that will plague the Middle East for twenty years unless immediate steps are taken.

At present the United States accepts fewer than 1,000 Iraqi refugees. This figure must be raised to at least 100,000 a year. Remember, we found room for Hungarian refugees in 1956 when Russian troops entered their nation, and for the thousands of Cubans who fled Castro. We can at least open our doors to people who are refugees because of our action. However, we can at least learn from the mistakes of the Palestinian refugees. There must be coordinated economic programs put into action by the European Union and the United States to ensure Iraqi people don’t sink into a refugee mentality. Many of these people are educated and possess skills. Give them economic opportunities and avoid creation of refugee camps that ten years down the pike will become hotbeds of radical terrorists.
Information from Der Spiegel