Iraq’s Refugee Crisis

Since the invasion of Iraq four years ago, all countries combined have offered a permanent home to approximately the same number of Iraqi refugees as flee the country in just five days. With roughly 40,000 Iraqis now fleeing the violence each month, the US must take the lead in attending to the refugees' needs

Among the many humanitarian disasters produced by the civil war now raging in Iraq is one that is almost invisible. Only rarely do scenes of massive displacement of the civilian population make it onto our television screens, because, unlike bombs and suicide attacks, displacement does not generate the blood, fire, or screams that constitutes compelling footage. Yet the numbers are staggering: each month, some 40,000 Iraqis flee their homes because of the war. Half of them go to other parts of Iraq; the rest go abroad.

Iraq’s population, frankly, is bleeding away. This devastation is even more dramatic because, since the invasion four years ago, only 3,183 Iraqis have been resettled in third countries. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, all countries combined have offered a chance to start a new life to approximately the same number of Iraqi refugees as flee the country in just five days.

This exodus is not new, but since the increased violence that followed the bombing of the Shiite Golden mosque in Samarra in February 2006, the pace of the displacement has accelerated. Indeed, this is the largest population displacement in the Middle East since 1948.

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