Recent news coverage has slowly begun to focus on the deteriorating situation for Iraqi refugees in neighboring Syria. Nevertheless, two new reports should remind us that their plight outside of Iraq is widespread. As reported in IRIN, the UN’s news website aimed at raising awareness on humanitarian issues:
Many Iraqi asylum-seekers in Jordan have fallen victim to resettlement scams in which they are approached by individuals claiming to guarantee their resettlement in a third country with the help of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), according to UN officials and Iraqi residents.
It is unclear how many Iraqis have fallen victim to resettlement scams, but the UN estimates the number to be in the thousands. While Jordan is currently hosting an estimated 500,000 Iraqi refugees, roughly 50,000 have fled to Lebanon. Although this may seem like a relatively small amount, it places a great deal of pressure on a country of 4 million that already hosts a Palestinian refugee population of up to 300,000. The consequences are outlined by a report released this week by Human Rights Watch:
Lebanese authorities treat as illegal immigrants Iraqis who enter Lebanon illegally or enter legally but then overstay their visas, regardless of their intent to seek asylum. Iraqi refugees are then subject to arrest, fines and detention by the Lebanese authorities.