Iraqi refugees in Syria (Part I)

The US is about to embark on an ambitious campaign to resettle Iraqi refugees this year.   The State Department goal is to bring 12,000 during the fiscal year that began a few weeks ago.   Recently Senator Kennedy attached a bill to a larger defense authorization bill to add another 5000.   Washington insiders who support increases in Muslim immigration are pushing this too.   For the United Nations, Kennedy, Muslims in America, and the Volags (non-profit groups) who are paid to resettle refugees, the numbers are not enough nor is the pace fast enough to suit them.     I’m on a quest to discover who these people are, how many are there, why have they  gone to Syria, and so on.   It’s a quest the lazy mainstream media isn’t going to embark on.

The public hype has painted the following picture:  Millions of  poor and desparate refugees streaming out of Iraq, living in horrible conditions (in tents in the desert!), many with death threats against them for having worked for the US government,  no chance of ever going back to Iraq and so on.  The upshot of all this is, of course, we owe it to them to bring them to America at taxpayer expense, disperse them throughout the country, and get them on welfare.   

My first stop in trying to discover the truth is a lengthy report (June 2007) from the Brookings Institution in Washington DC entitled, Iraqi Refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic:  A Field-Based Snapshot.   Although the study often refers to the “refugee crisis” or “refugee disaster” the facts they report to some degree belie the use of such terminology.

Did you know that:

*  The number of Iraqi refugees frequently given is 4 million, but 2 million of those are in Iraq and just not living in their home towns.   Of the estimated 2 million who have left the country, approximately 1.2 million are in Syria but that hundreds of thousands of those are people who left Iraq more than 20 years ago to escape Saddam Hussein.  According to Brookings, the Saddam Hussein regime displaced a million people and the Iran-Iraq War added to those numbers.

*  We really don’t know the true numbers because Brookings says, the “crisis” happened quickly, there is no existing capacity in the Syrian Government to track such information, and the “highly political nature of the problem.”  I read that last to mean that it doesn’t suit the political powers to know the truth; it leaves them free to make up their own truth.

* After the initial US invasion it was anticipated there would be a human flood leaving Iraq, that didn’t happen unless you count the Saddam loyalists leaving Iraq.    According to Brookings, “….the first to come were members of the former regime, many but not all of whom were Sunni and most of whom were wealthy.”

* Many who left Iraq had family living in Syria and others already had business ties to that country.  As we reported yesterday in our “Tent burning” post, the refugees living in Syria are in apartments for the most part.  They do not live in tents.

* Another wave of “refugees” occured when the US initiated the surge.  Many of those perpetrating sectarian violence, including the Mahdi Army, have scooted over the border to Syria. 

* Other “refugees” have headed to Syria because they want to be resettled in a third country and know they aren’t technically refugees if they still live in Iraq.

More to come later, there is so much in this report that I can’t possibly do it justice in one post. 

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