Thursday, July 10, 2008

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon *EDIT*

I'm staying in bed today due to a mild fever, so expect a post or two.
Here's the new Crisis Group detailed report about Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon(PDF, but click here for overview)

Okay, so I read the report, it's a very extensive and detailed description of refugee status, but it's also quite long, so here are a few interesting tidbits for the less patient:

* While the report finds excuses for the host countries [Syria and Jordan], it is very condemning of the Iraqi government, describing it as neglectful, if not outright hostile to the refugee population, not hearing any of its admittedly lame excuses "No doubt there are senior former regime figures among the refugees, but this does not excuse callous neglect of overwhelmingly non-political people who loyally served Iraq rather than any particular regime."
Next up the bat is the International community, the focus naturally goes to the "country whose policies caused this chaos", blaming the US for "downplaying the issue, providing far less assistance to host countries than needed and admitting to its own shores merely a trickle of refugees and only after unprecedented security checks to which asylum seekers from other nations are not subjected."

* When it comes to estimating the number of refugees, the host governments tend to bluff a lot, often raising or lowering the number depending on the circumstances (when they need to ask for money, or when pressured for taking care of more refugees), for instance, when the Norwegian NGO FAFO estimated the number of Iraqis last year, it came with the astonishing figure of 150,000, the Jordanian government fiddled around a bit and came up with the figure 450,000-500,000 (and before that, the Iraqis in Jordan were estimated to be 750,000 - 1 mil)

* The governments of both Jordan and Syria have imposed restrictions on charity organizations civil action and NGOs that can help Iraqis, this is because (a) Jordanian politics tend to frown on most associational work and (b) in Syria, they just don't know nor trust NGOs.

* The Syrian regime seemed to have a hard time figuring Iraq and was largely unfamiliar as to how to approach it, this is expalined because "of the historic rift between the Iraqi and Syrian Baath branches."

Other than that, the report in general is pretty solid and is a treasure trove of information, tracing the refugee status in each country and how it developed and why.

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