Monday, December 11, 2006

Resettlement of Iraqi refugees is restricted because it would look bad for Bush policy

The United States is prepared to resettle 500 Iraqis next year out of 1.5 million that have fled the war torn country so far. This compares to 900,000 Vietnamese refugees who were allowed to settle here following the war in Southeast Asia and 12,000 Iraqi Shiites following the 1991 Gulf War. According to Gene Dewey, who was assistant secretary of state for refugee affairs until last year, that "for political reasons the administration will discourage" the resettlement of Iraqi refugees in the U. S. "because of the psychological message it would send, that it is a losing cause."

This from today’s Boston Globe:
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homeland are likely to seek refugee status in the United States, humanitarian groups said, putting intense pressure on the Bush administration to reexamine a policy that authorizes only 500 Iraqis to be resettled here next year.

The official US policy has been that the refugee situation is temporary and that most of the estimated 1.5 million who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and elsewhere will eventually return to Iraq. But US and international officials now acknowledge that the instability in Iraq has made it too dangerous for many refugees, especially Iraqi Christians, to return any time soon.

… few Iraqi refugees have yet to be allowed to resettle here, due partly to finger-pointing between the State Department and the United Nations over who is responsible for determining which Iraqis need to be resettled. Sauerbrey said she has been pleading with the United Nations to do its job of surveying refugees.

"We have not been getting referrals from [the United Nations]," she said, pointing to the office of the UN high commissioner for refugees. "They have got to do a better job."

Judy Cheng-Hopkins, the United Nations assistant high commissioner for refugees, responded to such criticism by saying that the UN needs more funding from the international community to identify possible refugees. But she predicted that the numbers would be large because most refugees now see little chance of returning to Iraq.

She said many want to settle in the West, including in the United States, because their life in Iraq "is pretty much gone."

An effort by hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to resettle in the United States would put the Bush administration in an extraordinarily awkward position. Having waged war to liberate Iraqis, the United States would in effect be admitting failure if it allowed a substantial number of Iraqis to be classified as refugees who could seek asylum here.

1 comment:

LaReinaCobre said...

Another informative article you've posted!