George Packer continues to conscientiously write about the travails of Iraqi refugees and has mentioned The List Project’s very own Kirk Johnson in a recent blog post:
A few evenings ago, my friend Kirk Johnson stopped by with a man I’ll call Ibrahim, an Iraqi in his early thirties who had arrived in the U.S. earlier this month. Ibrahim’s story keeps getting worse before it gets better.
Toward the end of last year, while working for an American contractor, Ibrahim received a death threat from a co-worker who belonged to the Mahdi Army, and he decided to flee the country. Iraqis are less and less welcome in the Arab world, so he chose a dangerous, though increasingly common, way out: he paid a Swedish-Iraqi smuggler six thousand dollars up front to get him into Stockholm, where a cousin lives.
On the phone, Ibrahim sounded furious, bewildered, despairing—and determined. “Is it possible, is it possible?” he said over the static-filled connection. “I used to be manager of a procurement office of USAID. I am nothing now, and why? Because I trusted the U.S. When you are a refugee, it’s a very terrible feeling. You feel nobody knows about you, nobody cares about you.”
Packer had indicated that he will continue Ibrahim’s story on his blog so keep an eye out for that. Furthermore, in a recent spate of articles on Iraqi refugees and U.S. policy towards them, Slate has another article arguing that not only does the U.S. have a moral responsibility to admit thousands of Iraqi refugees into the country, but that robust resettlement will also aid America’s strategic interests:
As with the Palestinian problem, Iraq’s refugees could generate numerous regional crises. Large refugee flows can overstrain the economies and even change the demographic makeup of small or weak states, upsetting what is already a delicate political balance. One million Iraqi refugees is a substantial addition to Jordan’s population of less than 6 million.
Not only, this, but another interesting piece relates of growing class and economic tensions in Jordan due to the presence of Iraqi refugees:
Hostility towards them easily translates into a general dislike of all Iraqis in Jordan, regardless of whether they are wealthy or not. “I’ll give you an example — if an Iraqi comes to my stall he won’t ask the price, he’ll just start filling his bag,” says Mohammed Ro’ud, a greengrocer in Amman’s Boukari street market. “This is why the prices of flats are also going up: they don’t bargain, they just pay cash right away, and ordinary Jordanians can’t afford to do that.”
The article also states that while poor Iraqis also constitute part of the refugee population in Jordan, most poor refugees have settled in Syria where the economy is straining under the added weight of approximately 1.5 million Iraqi refugees. The Economist comments on the situation and also explains new Syrian regulations limiting refugee admittances:
The UNHCR has managed to register only 135,000 refugees, a fraction of those who have arrived. And they are still trickling in, despite new rules that have in effect closed the border. Only certain favoured categories of applicants, such as lorry drivers, businessmen, academics and engineers, are now being allowed in, with occasional exceptions for the sick.