"The increase is largely due to 650,000 more Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan and Syria," said USCRI's president, Lavinia Limon. "Although some Iraqis may be fleeing generalised violence, individuals and groups are targeted on the basis of political affiliation, professions, ethnic, or religious differences -- the definition of a refugee."
Moreover, she said that protections for fleeing Iraqis appear to be deteriorating, as Syria has begun to require residency permits, forcing many refugees to live underground, while Jordan has failed to so far to grant refugee status to Iraqis and is turning many back at the border.
WASHINGTON -- More than 650,000 Iraqis fled their homeland for Jordan and Syria since the beginning of 2005, according to a refugee survey released on Wednesday.The violence has forced over 40 percent of Iraqi professionals to leave, according to the survey, published by the Washington-based U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.
The figure, provided by the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a nongovernmental group based in Washington, is equal to about 2.5 percent of Iraq's population, and substantiates the overwhelming evidence of an exodus that has been accumulating in Iraqi passport offices and airline waiting rooms in recent months.
It was part of a survey of refugees around the world that was conducted by the committee and was scheduled for release on Wednesday. The number includes Iraqis who have been in Syria and Jordan since the invasion in 2003 but had not previously been counted as refugees, and those who arrived over the course of 2005.
The committee has counted Iraqi refugees in the past, but the most recent figure is by far the largest to date — more than triple the 213,000 recorded in 2004 — and the first big surge since the American invasion. At first, Iraqis living abroad began returning home. But as the war became increasingly deadly, more Iraqis chose to leave.
In all, as of the end of 2005, 889,000 Iraqis have moved abroad as refugees since 2003, according to the group's tally, more than double the 366,000 counted at the end of 2004.
Keep in mind that not everyone who wants to leave can leave. Probably far more want to leave than can manage to do so.
So hundreds of thousands are leaving per year. But with Jordan and Syria making it tough perhaps the outflux will slow.
Residents of the city of Ramadi are fleeing to escape a worsening security situation as the United States military steps up operations against insurgents there.
People in Ramadi, capital of the western Iraqi province of Anbar, estimate that about 70 per cent of the city’s population have fled in the last week, many of them holding white flags for fear of being shot at by Marine snipers.
Residents reported that US troops blasted messages through loudspeakers on June 13, telling them to leave and warning of house-to-house searches for weapons and militants.
The ongoing violence between US Marines and the insurgents, air strikes, and outages in the water, electricity and phone networks have already made life untenable. Ramadi residents say US troops regularly take over houses to fight the insurgents, and combatants on both sides have been seen using rooftops as sniper positions.
Bush and the neocons want to spread democracy to the Middle East. Well, the Iraqis are voting with their feet. They are voting for authoritarian governments that maintain order.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 June 16 06:07 AM Mideast Iraq Exodus|