When I first read this article, by Ken Bacon at the Huffington Post I thought wow! Refugees International was being sensible in saying that there are too many Iraqi refugees for them to be resettled in third countries and that our government needed to work with the Iraqi government to smooth the way home for displaced Iraqis.
Incidentally, they never tell you that some Iraqis have been displaced in the region since Saddam Hussein’s brutality scared them out of Iraq before we arrived in 2003.
Increasingly, refugees, who generally can’t work legally in their host countries, are running out of resources. The number of Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt is simply too large for these countries to absorb. The population is also too large to resettle into third countries. Therefore, the only real, long-term solution to the Iraqi displacement problem is return to Iraq. Finding ways to create conditions for safe return is central to improving stability in Iraq and in the Middle East.
So far so good. Bacon also said they will be making a trip to the region next month to assess the situation.
[An aside: RI has a PR firm that sent me this press statement with a Youtube clip of one of their young workers interviewing an Iraqi refugee in Syria (second clip on the page). I was shocked at the cultural insensitivity this woman demonstrated with her immodest dress in a conservative Muslim country. Remember the famous Nancy Pelosi in Syria head covering pic? Even in third world countries that are not Islamic it is not considered appropriate to put all one’s assets on public display.]
Next month Refugees International will launch its 10th mission [Edit. with cleavage and arms covered?] to assess the conditions of displaced Iraqis. The focus of this trip will be on ways to create conditions for speedier return, specifically how the US, the UN and the government of Iraq can work more productively together to resolve the security, humanitarian and legal problems that are preventing Iraqis from returning home.
So, I’m reading this and saying, good for you RI! We have a terrible economic situation developing in the US and already Iraqi refugees in 15 states are saying they have no work and some are wishing to go home to Iraq. Helping them return to Iraq sounds like a very sensible plan.
Then here comes the comprehensive program published in 2008:
Refugees International has been promoting a comprehensive program for dealing with Iraqi displacement since last summer. Recognizing that it will take some time to create conditions for safe return, the program calls for increased resettlement of vulnerable Iraqis in the U.S., more help for Jordan, Syria and other countries hosting Iraqi refugees, and a stepped-up effort to ensure voluntary return to Iraq.
Follow that link for the comprehensive program and what do you find! As we reported awhile back, they want to bring 105,500 Iraqis to the United States THIS YEAR! I had wondered how they came up with that astronomical number, remember we resettled 13,000 this past year and most of those can’t find jobs. It was only a few days ago when officials in Boise were freaking at the prospect of tent cities of unemployed refugees.
Here is the breakdown:
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 88,000 Iraqi refugees need immediate protection through resettlement next year. The U.S. generally resettles 50% of all refugees resettled in the world each year, bringing in the U.S. share for 2009 to: 44,000
Palestinian refugees living in desperate conditions on the Iraqi – Syrian border need immediate protection through resettlement: 3,000
The most recently available figures show that the State Department is currently processing 7,000 petitions to bring families averaging three people each to the U.S. to join with Iraqis who have already resettled in the U.S: 21,000
The Refugee Crisis in Iraq calls for admitting refugees who were persecuted due to their affiliations with the U.S. Government and other U.S. based organizations. Many of these refugees have left or are in the process of leaving the country and face an urgent need of assistance and protection as their resources run out. The U.S. should immediately resettle annually: 37,500