Iraqi refugees
December 13, 2006 5:20 PM   Subscribe

Iraq has become the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis. Life there is a living hell, but the exodus is threatening to destabalize its neighbors. The US accepts only 500 Iraqi refugees a year, but president Bush has the legal authority to admit 20,000 more. Perhaps he'll do it for Christmas. [Via No Quarter.]
posted by homunculus (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"You'd fly over it -- you've been there -- and you see people out in the fields doing things and people driving their cars and lining up for gasoline and going about their business." DHR
posted by Burhanistan at 5:26 PM on December 13, 2006

This flight is both a cause and an effect of instability. The individuals that flee Iraq are likely to be the ones with the best jobs and most financial resources; the professional class. That's going to be a drag on the economy and self-reliance long after the violence subsides... I worry that Iraq will become dependent on foreigners, whether from the West or the Middle East, to maintain their infrastructure.
posted by gsteff at 5:32 PM on December 13, 2006

That's going to be a drag on the economy and self-reliance long after the violence subsides...

assuming the violence does subside.
posted by j-urb at 5:45 PM on December 13, 2006

I was listening to this story on NPR the other day. Its true that many of the people fleeing are professionals, but there are many laborers who are fleeing to Syria and Jordan. Many native Syrians and Jordanians are now being displaced from their jobs because of the influx of people. Also, since the people fleeing Iraq are middle - upper middle class, they bring money with them and raise demand. I think this is something that will destabilize the entire region. With all the money leaving Iraq and driving prices around the region up for basic goods, housing, fuel and other necessary expenses, neighboring countries are going to see inflation, higher unemployment and general crowding.

Im glad I live in my ivory tower in San Francisco and can look down on this situation and judge. I know I would have been one of the first out if I were in Iraq. One day war is going to hit the US again...
posted by subaruwrx at 5:46 PM on December 13, 2006

destabalize? the cabal must exist, after all.

As regards the content, no comment; I can't afford to make political statements on Iraq, I'd be bullshitting you if I did. I have no idea what life in Iraq entails for an 'average' civilian as of now.
posted by attackthetaxi at 6:24 PM on December 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

1.8 million Iraqis have fled Iraq
1.8 million Iraqis have fled Iraq
1.8 million Iraqis have fled Iraq
1.8 million Iraqis have fled Iraq
1.8 million Iraqis have fled Iraq
1.8 million Iraqis have fled Iraq

... I think this number deserves more emphasis.

Thanks for the links.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:03 PM on December 13, 2006

This flight is both a cause and an effect of instability. The individuals that flee Iraq are likely to be the ones with the best jobs and most financial resources; the professional class.

The country's talent pool was well-drained long before Bush pulled out his little wee-wee and pissed into it. Large numbers of Iraqi professionals left the country, especially those with male children, during the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s never to return.
posted by three blind mice at 8:23 PM on December 13, 2006

Wow. 1.8 million refugees. That plus the 600k dead since the the invasion began, is 2.4 million either dead or fled the country, out of a country of 26 million people. That's nearly 10%. In 3 years.
posted by NickO at 8:38 PM on December 13, 2006

Surfurrus: Wrong. From the article:
The UN estimates that 2.3 million Iraqis have fled violence in their country; 1.8 million have fled to surrounding countries, while some 500,000 have vacated their homes for safer areas within Iraq.
Iraq's population was estimated to be 26 million in July 2006. That is to say, 10% of the country has left because of the civil war.
posted by the cydonian at 9:18 PM on December 13, 2006

Okay, so I can't stay of the politics. Kill me now.

Partition this miserable excuse for a country already, along Sunni/Shia/Kurdish lines. Do the humane thing. Some people insist that they cannot live together. Let them go in mutual peace and hatred. But let the last act of the United States be one of mercy.

And give a nascent Kurdistan plenty of support, if not the lion's share of the territory. They've been relative champs, mostly, throughout this mess. Groups that show themselves to be self-governing should be rewarded.

This is the 4 am formulation; I don't know how I'll feel about it later today.
posted by attackthetaxi at 1:15 AM on December 14, 2006

I'm not wholly against the idea of partition, but realize that it wouldn't be a 1:1:1 ratio of power between the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds -- not by a long shot. Partition effectively equals a very pro-Iranian Shia Iraq, due to simple demographics.

Iran would be very pleased, and the Saudis and Turks will never let it happen without a fight -- a literal fight.
posted by bardic at 2:34 AM on December 14, 2006

I wonder if a dual state might not work? Put the Kurds and Sunnis in 'Kurdistan', and the Shias in 'Iraq'.

The tripartite thing probably won't work, because the Sunnis have no oil wealth and would end up a ghetto. They know that, and they'll never accept a three-way split.

Admittedly, this is pretty naive, but the Sunnis and Kurds don't seem to hate each other too much. The Sunnis won't like not being in charge, but they're not going to be in charge anyway. They're outnumbered like 5 to 1, so if it gets to all-out war, there won't be Sunnis in Iraq anymore. Given that alternative, I wouldn't think living with the Kurds would be too bad.

One thing I'm really sure about: there will be a Kurdistan out of this whole mess. I hope we'll be the first to recognize them. It's the least we owe them after fucking them over in the first Iraq war. It's inevitable anyway, so it strikes me that we could give it to them early if they'll agree to accept the Sunnis and treat them fairly.
posted by Malor at 4:57 AM on December 14, 2006

re: partition- It's not the demographics, it's the geography.

Only the south has oil.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:41 AM on December 14, 2006

There have been 25,000 American casualties (killed and wounded) in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed. Time to send more troops and ask for another $100 billion in "emergency" funding. (I remember when asking for $87 billion was shocking. Good times, good times.) The Pentagon's calling the new plan "doubling down," but it's really more like "double or nothing." Sending more troops and focusing on Baghdad has already failed.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:38 AM on December 14, 2006

IndigoJones, I don't have first-hand knowledge, but I was under the very definite impression that both the Kurds and the Shia have oil, in the north and south of the country, whereas the Sunni middle has none.

Offhand, I don't have a source, but I'm essentially certain I've either read this or been told about it on numerous occasions.

The dual-state thing, on the other hand, is just idle musing, which is probably obvious. :)
posted by Malor at 7:11 AM on December 14, 2006

Time for an international war crimes tribunal.
I'm looking at you Dubya.
posted by nofundy at 8:01 AM on December 14, 2006

the real problem here is that the liberal media isn't reporting about the bright side of the refugee crisis - i'm outraged by the outrage!

and now we return you to the War on Christmas
posted by yonation at 8:08 AM on December 14, 2006

Letting Iraqi refugees enter the US would be the humanitarian thing to do, but I can't help but thing it would be a huge security error. We'd never be able to screen them well enough to ensure we weren't bringing in some terrorists.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:49 PM on December 14, 2006

I can't help but think, not thing. Gah, I can't type today.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:50 PM on December 14, 2006

But do we also have an obligation to accept them, since we did create the instability that's driving them out of Iraq? I think we do, despite the security nightmare it could create. I don't expect many people to agree, though.
posted by homunculus at 11:43 PM on December 14, 2006

Malor, greetings

Until you or I or Mrs Jones are made world dictator, all is mere musing. Not sure if that's a good thing or not.

You're right, my bad, the north does have fields. Too quick off the mark. But my main point stands, the three sides will not play nice, not with that much at stake. Kurdish thing is complicated by our (America's) not wishing to step on Turkish toes, and Turkey is really unhappy with Kurdish separatism, almost as much as we are attached to Incirlik.

On the geography demography question, see here and here. Seeds of ugly, however you slice it.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:41 AM on December 15, 2006

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