Beyond FACTS: A Monday Mixed-Bag
“Nearly 2 million people are fleeing Iraq in what the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres recently called a ‘humanitarian disaster.’ According to Guterres, there are more than 1.7 million Iraqis internally displaced, including some 500,000 who have been displaced since the bombing of a Shi’a holy shrine in the city of Samarra in February 2006. Since 2003, up to 2 million Iraqis have sought refuge in neighboring countries. Of these, some 700,000 currently reside in Jordan and approximately 1 million reside in Syria.
“Many of the Iraqis fleeing the country are members of vulnerable populations, such as religious minorities, or now have affiliations with the U.S. government that put them in danger inside Iraq. If such people are not allowed to seek safety, they remain in genuine danger of persecution. As a leading member of the Multinational Force (MNF), the United States must do everything in its power to ensure that durable protection is afforded to Iraqi refugees as well as to the 1.7 million internally displaced people inside Iraq.
“‘United States policy and military action contributed to the dreadful situation that now prevails in Iraq, yet the United States has resettled fewer than 500 Iraqis displaced as a result of the war,’ said Sarnata Reynolds, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) refugee program director. ‘While AIUSA applauds (the) establishment of an Iraq Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Task Force and acknowledges (the) commitment to resettle 7,000 Iraqi refugees during the coming year, many more people need help. The United Nations estimates that 40,000 to 50,000 people flee Iraq each month—where will they go?’”