Iraq Refugees and U.S. Responsibility
September 28th, 2007
In this NYT op-ed Mr. Cohen got it right. It is the moral imperative of the United States to swiftly and effectively address the Iraqi Refugee Crisis.
If you want to learn just how bad the Iraq refugee crisis really is, see also the June 2007 special issue of Forced Migration Review. Some highlights of the review as posted by Travis Sharp at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation:
Iraqis are having problems gaining asylum
Page 10: Iraqis today constitute the largest group of asylum seekers in 32 industrialised countries surveyed by UNHCR. Asylum applications by Iraqis rose by 77% in 2006 – from 12,500 in 2005 to 22,000 last year. Sweden was the top destination with some 9,000 applications, followed by the Netherlands (2,800), Germany (2,100) and Greece (1,400).
Page 25: In 2005, the US allowed only 202 Iraqi refugees to enter the country. Under increasing pressure to respond to the refugee crisis and to rescue refugees persecuted for their support of the American initiative, the State Department announced in January 2007 its willingness to resettle up to 7,000 Iraqi refugees this year. As of this writing, fiscal year 2007 is half over and fewer than 100 Iraqi refugees have been admitted to the US, a rate of admission even lower than 2005. Even if the US were to succeed in resettling 7,000 Iraqis in 2007, it would be but a drop in the ocean of two million Iraqi refugees and another two million displaced within Iraq.*
Iraqi women and children are hit especially hard
Page 11: Three quarters of all internally displaced persons (IDPs) are women (28%) and children (48%).
Page 27: In some areas, up to 90% of children are not going to school. In February UNICEF estimated that 4.5 million children are under-nourished, one child in ten is under-weight, and one in five short for their age. Iraqis still lack basic services Page 14: The UN estimates that four million Iraqis lack food security. In 2006, one third of the population was found to be living in poverty. Unemployment is estimated to range between 20% and 60%.
Page 27: The sewage system has almost collapsed and only 19% of Iraqis resident in Iraq have access to a functional sanitation system.*
Refugee spill over is placing a heavy burden on Iraq’s neighbors
Page 18: Initial estimates indicate that the general cost of the presence of the large numbers of Iraqi citizens on Jordan is no less than $1 billion per annum.
Page 19: The prices of foodstuffs and basic goods in Syria has gone up by 30%, property prices by 40%, and rentals by 150%. Water consumption has increased by 21%. The additional cost to the Syrian government of supplying Iraqi refugees with drinking water and sanitation alone came to $6.8 million last year. There are so many Iraqi refugees that they have become a burden on the labour market. In 2006, Syria’s unemployment rate was 18%.