Friday, December 7, 2007

Tragic, where is George W. Bush when you need him.

December 7, 2007Refugees Caught Between Deportation and Death Threatsby Ali al-FadhilyBAGHDAD - Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis driven out of their country by violence are now faced with detention abroad, or a homecoming to death threats.More than two million Iraqis, in a population of about 25 million, have taken refuge in many countries. Only a few have won official status as refugees. Most refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and many other countries stay on as illegal residents, facing threats of deportation and imprisonment."To deport an Iraqi refugee is to issue a death warrant," Ali Jassim, an Iraqi journalist recently deported from Lebanon told IPS in Baghdad. "The Lebanese authorities are applying regular migration rules to Iraqis, meaning that most Iraqis in Lebanon will be deported."
Refugees Caught Between Deportation and Death Threats - by Ali al-Fadhily

Where is George W. Bush when you need him. Invade a sovereign country, turn it into a killing field and then drag his feet on bringing the lions share of these people into the US. The most vulnerable of Iraqi's are those who have helped the American's and will face certain death if they're deported back to Iraq. Most of these refugees are in the surrounding states such as Syria and Jordan. For 2007, the State Department has promised to process 7,000 application for asylum in the US. This out of 2 million Iraqi's displaced outside of Iraq, and 1.5 million displaced internally in Iraq. Many of which are in hiding to avoid murder by Al Quaida or Shiit death squads. Next are excerpts from ,excellent article from McClatchy, that although a bit dated, lays out the snails pace of the Bush Administration doing it's share to alleviate the huge refugee problem it created.

Published on Thursday, February 8, 2007 by McClatchy Newspapers
by Warren P. Strobel

One out of every seven Iraqis has fled his or her home or sought refuge abroad, the largest movement of people in the Middle East since the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948, according to United Nations officials and relief workers. Every day, violence displaces an estimated 1,300 more Iraqis in the country; every month, at least 40,000.

Last year, 202 refugees from Iraq were allowed to resettle in the United States.

Against that backdrop, the Bush administration is moving - belatedly, in the view of critics - to address a problem that it's widely seen as having created by invading Iraq in March 2003.


In his just-released budget, President Bush asked for $35 million to help Iraq's refugees in fiscal year 2008, plus $15 million in supplemental funding for this year.

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a private nonprofit group, had urged Bush to seek $250 million as part of a supplemental war funding request.


The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimated in a report last month that there are as many as 2 million Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, primarily in Syria and Jordan. Another 1.7 million people are displaced within Iraq, the UNHCR said.

Some of the refugees fled during Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's reign, before the U.S. invasion. But the exodus has accelerated since the bombing of a Shiite Muslim mosque in the city of Samarra last February.

Non-governmental groups working with refugees say that outside aid can't come fast enough, because Syria and Jordan are hinting at closing their doors. Other neighbors, such as Saudi Arabia, have accepted almost no refugees. The Saudis are building a barrier along the border with Iraq,

"In six months, it will be too late," said Kristele Younes of Refugees International, an advocacy group. "We're not seeing the U.S. do much, frankly."

Senior U.S. officials sidestepped the question of whether Washington bears special responsibility for Iraqis fleeing the violence.


"Obviously what we're trying to do is to create circumstances to reduce the numbers of refugees who want to come to the United States or elsewhere," Tobias said.

Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey told a Senate hearing last month that the United States had admitted 466 Iraqi refugees since 2003. She ascribed the small number to the Department of Homeland Security's stringent security review of each applicant. She said that number could expand to as many as 20,000 this year.

The U.S. Committee for Refugees said Wednesday that it welcomed Rice's initiative and urged the administration to expedite resettlement of Iraqis who worked for the U.S. or allied militaries.

But even if the United States and other countries open their doors wider, only a small fraction of Iraq's legions of refugees would be resettled abroad.

The Geneva-based UNHCR last month asked for $60 million from foreign donors to protect and aid the refugees. Of that amount, $40 million has been pledged, and $9.1 million received, said agency official Tim Irwin.

The UNHCR acknowledged that even if the appeal is fully subscribed, it would help only a fraction of displaced Iraqi families.

It's "a drop in the bucket," Younes said.

The crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better. UNHCR projects that the number of internally displaced in Iraq could grow to about 2.7 million by year's end.

A recent report by the Washington-based Brookings Institution said that if Iraq spirals into all-out civil war, U.S. troops might have to establish "catch basins" along Iraq's borders to care for tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fleeing the violence.

This article was written in February, 2007 and the pace of asylum requests to the US has increased slightly, the number of displaced Iraqi's has soared to about 4 million'

Below are excerpts from a State Department press conference held just last month.
State Department Briefing ON Iraq Refugees

Processing Iraqi refugees continues to be a priority for DHS, particular for USCIS. As of November 21st, 2007, we've completed approximately 5,600 Iraqi interviews. One point that I do want to make is that there's a difference between cases and interviews. A case can be composed of more than one person. A case can involve as many as five people. So when we talk in terms of cases, it's -- usually the numbers are always going to be smaller than the number of people that we're talking about. I just wanted to make sure everybody understood that.

QUESTION: Yeah, can I just ask both of you if the Administration still believes it has a moral obligation to assist these Iraqi refugees, particularly those who have worked for the U.S. Government as direct hires or those who have worked as contract workers and their families? And if it does, why is this so slow? You know, the previous examples of massive influxes of refugees, you're looking at almost 200,000 were admitted from Vietnam in nine months. In 1975, you had the situation with the Kurds who were taken en masse to Guam to be processed there. This case, these people are just sitting around and it's like wait and wait and wait in Casablanca. Why is it taking so long?

I should note in this respect that the Administration has a request before the Congress for $195 million in assistance for Iraqi refugees that we hope will be acted upon soonest. In fiscal year 2007, the PRM Bureau provided nearly $123 million in humanitarian assistance for Iraqi refugees, including $39 million towards the UN -- the Joint UN Education Appeal and $18.5 million to ICRC's Iraq appeal. We also gave another $18.5 million to NGOs providing health, education and other humanitarian assistance to Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Anyway you cut it, it is shameful the paltry efforts the Bush Administration has made to grant asylum to the lions share of Iraq refugees whose plight it created. It is downright criminal to not immediately grant asylum to those Iraqi's who have and are risking their lives by helping our country. These people have already been vetted by the US military so their is no excuse for holding up their application while they are being hunted by insurgents and death squads.
For instance, more than 22,000 refugees have been received by European counties, with more than 8000 of those to tiny Sweden.

Currently, we are spending 30 million a day for military operations alone in Iraq. To help alleviate the refugee problem we spent a meager 123 million in 2007 for assistance to aid Iraq refugees. Bush has requested the sorry amount of 35 million for fiscal year 2008. Meanwhile, the ranks of Iraq refugees has swelled to 4.5 million.

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