Wednesday, June 6, 2007

4.2 million Iraqi refugees and displaced

One of the consequences of the US war against the Iraqis:

The number of Iraqis who have fled the country as refugees has risen to 2.2 million, said Jennifer Pagonis, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. A further 2 million have been driven from their homes but remain within the country, increasingly in "impoverished shanty towns," she said.

Pagonis said UNHCR is receiving "disturbing reports" of regional authorities doing little to provide displaced people with food, shelter and other basic services.

[snip]

Forced evictions from public buildings are common, Pagonis added. Almost half of all displaced people have no access to official food distribution programs, according to U.N. estimates.

Most of those uprooted from their homes come from Baghdad and its surrounding districts. More than 85 percent of the Iraqis displaced within the country have moved to central and southern regions, Pagonis said.

She said about 30,000 Iraqis continue to flee each month to Syria, which is now housing 1.4 million Iraqi refugees. Another 750,000 are in Jordan.

While Iraq's neighbors are bearing the bulk of the refugee burden, few Iraqis are being welcomed into countries further afield, particularly in Europe, Pagonis said.

Among the displaced are the Mandaeans, an indigenous Gnostic community that had survived for many centuries prior to the US wars against Iraq, starting with the 1991 Gulf War. There is a strong probability that this particular culture will not survive the ethnic cleansing that has embarked in earnest in the intervening years.

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