Baltimore Sun reporter Matthew Hay Brown has been doing some good reporting these days on the Iraqi refugee issue. I would like to see AP reporter Matthew Lee write something other than ‘bring more Iraqis to the US now!’ and ‘Bush is bad.’
According to Mr. Brown, an Iraqi official at the Iraq’s Embassy in Syria lists three things delaying the return of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to their country.
DAMASCUS, Syria – Adnan al-Sharafy sees a few obstacles holding up the return of Iraqi refugees to their home country: the U.S. military, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the news media.
Sharify, an official at the Iraqi Embassy here in Syria, helped to organize government-sponsored bus trips at the end of last year that he says carried 420 Iraqi families back to Baghdad. (The United Nations estimates the Iraqi population here at 1.2 million.)
More free rides home are planned, Sharify says. But finding takers is likely to remain a challenge.
Sharify blames the U.S. military for making it difficult to enter Iraq, causing waits at the border that he says can last days. He blames the United Nations refugee agency for raising the hopes of Iraqis seeking resettlement to North America or Europe. And the news media, for reporting every violent incident that occurs in Iraq.
“About 90 percent of Iraq is safe now,” Sharify says.
I can’t speak to the veracity of the point about the military checkpoints holding up people for days, but I sure can see the other two things as impediments to progress. Heck we have NGO’s here in the US calling for 60,000 (or 100,000!) refugees to be brought to the US ASAP. Those same NGO’s are beating the drum that it isn’t safe to return to Iraq.
Meanwhile the Iraqis who are arriving in the US are extremely frustrated at not finding any suitable work and we have only resettled about 13,000 this past year. Imagine if the number should grow to 60,000 or 100,000. We don’t know why the UN and the NGO’s aren’t telling Iraqis the straight story about the job situation here.
We have maintained from the outset that the solution is for us to help Iraqis in the region to return home.
As for the media, as long as Bush is President Iraq will be a dangerous place, but as Judy remarked earlier, just watch when it’s President Obama in charge, Iraq will be transformed, as if by magic, into a more peaceful welcoming land.