Iraqi Refugees
April 19, 2010 11:11 AM   Subscribe

They Fled from Our War. "Among the many consequences of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the plight of millions of Iraqi refugees is seldom mentioned. The stories of such people as Burhan Abdulnour, whom we met in Sweden in 2008, have hardly been told."
posted by homunculus (11 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Here is the Refugees International report mentioned in the article: Iraq: Humanitarian Needs Persist
posted by homunculus at 12:11 PM on April 19, 2010

Christians were among those targeted by armed gangs and Islamic militias.

That's what one can expect from the New York Times. Fair and balanced. Christians persecuted by Muslims.

I'm an immigrant in Sweden. I know some of these people. Almost all are Kurds, but there are a fair number of Shia as well. Also some Sunni Iraqis who fled in the 1980s during the war with Iran. None of them are Christians. The only Christians I know in Sweden are Armenians who have only hatred for Kurds and Turks - but ambivalence towards Arabs.

As I well knew, but was told again by the Iraqi pharmacist who drove my taxi to Stockholm's Arlanda airport two weeks ago, after the war to liberate the monarchy of Kuwait, the Shia and Kurds were encouraged by King Bush 1st to rise up against Saddam.

Before they even got going, they were abandoned by America. In his zeal to defeat Saddam, Bush seemed to forget that Iran was his real enemy. Bush 41 actually stopped the bombardment of Saddam's Republican guards to permit them to withdraw from the border with Kuwait to crush those who would oppose Saddam's government (lest Iran benefit from a Shia uprising.).

Seldom mentioned indeed. As are the several hundred thousand Palestinians who were thrown out of Kuwait after the American "liberation" of that miserable little dictatorship.
posted by three blind mice at 12:27 PM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

That's what one can expect from the New York Times.

The article is from the New York Review of Books, not the NYT.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:41 PM on April 19, 2010

Homunculus, thanks for posting this, as it has been a sobering read.

TBM, you are so very right about how the situation and circumstances of Iraq and it's many different peoples are oversimplified... perhaps even intentionally ignored.

What is so very clear, at least to this United States citizen, is that empire carries a terrible cost... as hubris becomes the norm, and violence perpetrated for no other reason than to intimidate and devide.

The United States is building a very dark legacy, and has been since long before I was born.

Where do we go from here? Is it just easier to let it all come down at this point?

There has to come a time for reckoning, and reconcilliation.

Is it too late for that?
posted by PROD_TPSL at 12:43 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

A powerful account of the plight of refugees created by the US invasion is Jessica Blank's Aftermath, a "documentary drama" (she wrote The Exonerated). It's worth seeing if it is performed again.
posted by cal71 at 2:10 PM on April 19, 2010

The biggest problem is with the immediate neighbours. Human Rights First reckons there are about 2.25 Million refugees in Jordan and Syria.
Iraqi refugees in Jordan face serious hardship. Although the vast majority are not confined in camps, most are denied legal status. The only way for Iraqis to obtain a Jordanian residency card is by placing more than US $100,000 on hold in a special account.
Without a residency card, the refugees do not have the right to work and most lack access to education and heath car.
In Syria, Iraqi refugees cannot legally work but they do have access to the public health service for primary and emergency care and can also visit Syrian Red Crescent Clinics specifically for refugees. Refugee children are given free access to Syrian schools. However, much of the refugee population cannot afford to pay for books and uniforms.
Iraqi refugees in Syria not going back soon. Neither Jordan nor Syria are signatories to the refugee convention.
Here is a February Press Release from International Rescue Committee (IRC) on their third report “A Tough Road Home: Uprooted Iraqis in Jordan, Syria and Iraq".
All of this does not bode well for future stability in the Area.
posted by adamvasco at 12:23 AM on April 20, 2010

The biggest problem is with the immediate neighbours.

The biggest problem is blaming Jordan and Syria for a war fought for the benefit of America and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

How many refugees has Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and America taken in? Indeed, Kuwait is responsible for a large part of the problem:

Following the 1991 Gulf War, Palestinians in Kuwait were reduced from a thriving immigrant community of more than 400,000 to less than 30,000 in 1998. Kuwaitis forced them out of the country using a systematic and violent campaign of ethnic cleansing. The Palestinian official support for Iraq during the crisis was used as an excuse for that campaign.

How much money has Saudi Arabia and America and Kuwait sent to Jordan and Syria to assist the refugees caused by their war?

I bet tiny Sweden - who had nothing to do with that war - has offered far more humanitarian assistance to its victims than all three of those rich countries combined.
posted by three blind mice at 12:59 AM on April 20, 2010

3BM - I will rephrase my leading sentence.
The biggest problems will probably begin to occur in the immediate neighboring countries of Syria and Jordan.
I quite agree that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are part of the Problem not the solution.
The larger problem is of course "The Empire" and its lickspittles.
posted by adamvasco at 1:18 AM on April 20, 2010

The biggest problems will probably begin to occur in the immediate neighboring countries of Syria and Jordan.

Thanks for the clarification. It's unfortunately more of a problem for the refugees themselves than for either Syria or Jordan. Even for the Iraqi refugees in Sweden it's too cold, too foreign, and there is little chance for them to work professionally. It was never intended to be a long term, permanent solution, but the second Saddam war - and continuing occupation - made it impossible for these people to return.
posted by three blind mice at 2:59 AM on April 20, 2010

this is very tough to read from a U.S. perspective, given that we have not had to host a war in a really long time and have played an extensive away schedule.

how would our lives change? incalculably. terribly. unimaginably.

and to read such accounts is to put ourselves in their shoes and to have to think about: no home, no job, maybe no family, no routine, no certainty of anything - for the foreseeable future. it's one thing to meet refugees, or to see them in schools and government offices, trying to figure out what to do next. but to be one of them? inconceivable, for most of us.

and to think how much of it is our responsibility
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:21 PM on April 20, 2010

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