[Our having totally disrupted Iraq and with the resulting murderous internecine warfare — driving people both out of their country or out of their homes to join fellow religionists, we owe Iraqis full support — both offering refuge here for those at risk for having supported us and financial support for those uprooted over there.  It is time that we stopped acting like the notorious giants of old, wreaking disaster on fellow humans without taking the slightest responsibility for our disruptive actions.  We suffer from too damned many media distractions in this country of more than 300 million, drum beating daily child abuse and brutal murder stories which distract us from realities out there.  Ed Kent]


Iraq: Refugee crisis unfolds amid global apathy
AI Index: MDE 14/042/2007 (Public)
News Service No: 181
24 September 2007

The international community is failing to address adequately Iraq’s
spiralling refugee crisis leaving the main host countries of Syria
and Jordan shouldering too much of the responsibility, Amnesty
International said in a report published today. As a result, these
two countries are now tightening border controls, and so cutting off
the main escape routes for people fleeing from sectarian and other
violence in Iraq.

The report, Millions in flight: the Iraqi refugee crisis, commends
the Syrian and Jordanian governments for largely keeping their
borders open to date but accuses other states of doing too little to
help them cope with the huge demands they face in meeting the needs
of the almost 2 million Iraqi refugees whom they now host.

“The desperate humanitarian situation of displaced Iraqis, including
the refugees and those who remain within Iraq, has been largely
ignored by the world,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle
East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. “A
deepening humanitarian crisis and greater political instability
across the wider region are looming, unless the international
community meets its obligation to shoulder a fair share of the
responsibility for protecting and assisting Iraqi refugees.”

At least four million Iraqis are now displaced and their numbers
continue to rise at an estimated rate of 2,000 people per day,
making this the world’s fastest growing displacement crisis. Syria
now hosts 1.4 million Iraqi refugees and Jordan an estimated 500,000
or more, while 2.2 million people are displaced but still remain
within Iraq itself.

“We are very concerned that the new visa requirements being
introduced by Syria and Jordan will prevent Iraqis receiving the
protection they need. We urge both governments to keep their borders
open to those fleeing for their lives,” said Malcolm Smart.
“However, other states must do more to assist these two countries by
providing increased financial, technical and in-kind bilateral
assistance to enable them to meet the health, schooling and other
needs of the refugees, and by accepting greater number of especially
vulnerable refugees for resettlement.”

Amnesty International is also calling for on-going assistance from
the international community to the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as national and international
humanitarian organizations to enable them to continue to provide and
expand their current work to protect and assist Iraqis in need.

“The modest steps taken by the international community do not
measure up to the magnitude of the crisis,” said Malcolm Smart.
“Moreover, some states are taking negative measures, such as
forcibly returning rejected asylum seekers to Iraq, cutting off
assistance to those denied asylum and even revoking the refugee
status of some Iraqis.”

The report criticises the slow pace of resettlement of those
considered most vulnerable among the Iraqi refugees in Jordan and
Syria, including victims of torture and other grave abuses. It notes
that between 2003, when the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussain,
and 2006, the number of Iraqi refugees resettled in third countries
fell by more than a half despite rising political violence.
According to UNHCR, 1,425 Iraqi refugees were resettled in third
countries in 2003 but only 404 in 2006.

“The international community must accept a shared responsibility by
resettling Iraqis from Jordan and Syria, particularly the most
vulnerable, in a more expedient manner with a view to increasing the
overall resettlement quotas in third countries,” said Malcolm Smart.
“In particular, having regard to their direct involvement in the
conflict, the states that make up the US-led Multi-National Force
need to do more to alleviate the plight of those who have been
forced from their homes by the violence, including those still in
Iraq and the refugees in Syria, Jordan and other countries.”

In addition to the report released today Amnesty International will
be publishing next week a report looking at the situation of
Palestinians in Iraq.

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Past and current Amnesty news services can be found at http://www.amnesty.org/news.
Visit http://www.amnesty.org
for information about Amnesty International and for other AI
publications. Contact amnestyis@amnesty.org if you
need to get in touch with the International Secretariat of Amnesty

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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