In Focus: Syria’s closed border

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The closure of the Syrian/Iraqi border earlier this month is a major development in the ongoing refugee crisis, the ramifications of which continue to ripple. Syria had long been the only place where many Iraqis could legally go to escape the violence in their home country. Now, with borders closed all around them and a high-tech wall going up on the Saudi side, for many if not most Iraqis, there is nowhere to run…

The New York Times offers this thorough report:

Syria Shuts Main Exit From War for Iraqis:

By THANASSIS CAMBANIS

…“The door is now closed to Iraqis in every direction,” said Sybella Wilkes, a spokeswoman here for the United Nations refugee agency. It is unclear whether Syria will enforce the rules for the Iraqis already in the country. United Nations officials believe Syria is likely to continue its practice of not deporting citizens of other Arab countries whose immigration status is illegal. Syria announced the new rules this summer and said they would take effect on Sept. 1. But it postponed their implementation and continued to accept refugees until Oct. 1. Under the old visa rules, Iraqis entered Syria without restriction and were allowed to remain for three months. Damascus has avoided any announcement about the policy since it took effect, leaving refugees and United Nations officials in a haze of uncertainty…

Read the complete article.


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