This blog has tried to bring attention to the plight of Iraqi refugees who have fled to other parts of the region including Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Now a new UN report sheds light onto the struggles of Iraqi refugees living in Egypt. While UNHCR has registered just under 10,000 Iraqis in the country, various NGOs estimate a much higher figure that ranges from 100,000 to 150,000. Like others displaced by this conflict, many are being forced to consider a return home even though it is not safe. As reported in IRIN, the UN’s news website aimed at raising awareness on humanitarian issues:
While resettlement by UNHCR is hoped for but not necessarily forthcoming, some Iraqis in Egypt say they are returning home due to dried up funds, as opposed to security improvements.
Um Omar, a 58-year-old widow who arrived in Egypt about a year ago, said she was considering returning to Iraq due to a lack of alternatives, though she fears the violence she would face there. She told IRIN that last year two of her sister’s daughters were killed when a bomb went off in a mosque in the al-Kah’kh neighbourhood of Baghdad.
“I am between heaven and hell,” she said. “Life in Baghdad is expensive and I am scared to return.”
With the outlook for Iraqi refugees steadily and endlessly worsening, it is an especially pressing time for the US to make sure its commitment to accept 12,000 Iraqis during the 2008 Fiscal Year is not simply rhetoric.