Asst. Secretary for refugees says Iraq needs to do more for refugees

Update November 20th:  Schwartz confirms in Syria that we are taking at least 17,000 Iraqis this fiscal year.  Mr. Schwartz, where will they work?

But, he also says we are planning on taking another 17,000 this fiscal year as well!

From AP:

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government has taken strides to help refugees displaced by the violence in the country over recent years return home, but still “needs to do a heck of a lot more,” a U.S. official said Saturday.

Eric Schwartz, the assistant secretary of state for refugees, said Baghdad has proposed a 250 percent increase to the budget to assist refugees and plans to appoint a coordinator to help people move back home.

That we are helping to encourage Iraqis go home is good news.   Schwartz is likely very well aware of the many Iraqis who have come to the US over the last year only to find they must live in substandard housing and go without meaningful work—in many cases no work at all.  The Iraqi refugees have a different personality than say the Burmese we have been learning about in Bowling Green, because the Iraqis are willing to complain loudly to the press that they feel neglected.  Some have even returned to the Middle East. See our Iraqi refugee category with 437 posts on the subject!

Nevertheless, Schwartz confirms that we are taking another whopping 17,000 Iraqis in FY2010 which began October 1st.

According to the United Nations, as of January 2009 there were an estimated 2 million Iraqi refugees in neighboring Jordan and Syria, and some 2.6 million people displaced within Iraq.

The U.S. was heavily criticized by those who felt it was taking in too few Iraqi refugees uprooted by the sectarian bloodletting that followed the U.S.-led 2003 invasion and ouster of Saddam Hussein.

But more than 30,000 Iraqis have moved to the U.S. since in the last two years as part of a United Nations resettlement program that started in 2007

Schwartz, who was in Baghdad for meetings with his Iraqi counterparts Saturday, said the U.S. plans to allow some 17,000 Iraqis refugees to settle in the U.S. next year. That number is roughly on par with the number resettled in 2009.

Iraqi boy, wise beyond his years!

We can’t save all the refugees in the world, so let me remind readers of what a wise Iraqi boy told a Tucson paper last year:

It is better to have 10 Iraqi refugees who are satisfied with their lives than having 100 angry ones with no life at all.

Got a refugee problem?  Write to Eric Schwartz, here.

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