Ian Mather writes in the Scotsman that this exodus now exceeds the displacement of Palestinians in 1948, and is the greatest exodus in the history of the region:
The flow of Iraqis fleeing sectarian violence in their homeland has risen to more than four million - the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since the creation of Israel in 1948.
Syria, with porous borders and greater openness to Iraqis than its other Arab neighbors such as Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, is believed to have the largest number. According to Paul Cochrane of the Independent:
A major and growing refugee crisis is developing in Syria. More than 1.4 million Iraqis have fled there since the 2003 invasion, with about 30,000 more arriving every month.
Although the primary reasons for Iraqis fleeing their country are violence and insecurity, many are also looking for better health care and the chance for their children to have an education without the daily risks of traveling between home and school in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq.
Ali Abu Teeba, interviewed by Alive in Baghdad, claims his son was diagnosed with diabetes, after the bombings in Iraq. More likely, this is due to the collapse of infrastructure. Diabetes and Thalycemia are two conditions that Iraqis repeatedly mention when discussing health problems that forced them to flee Iraq.
Others need urgent and continuing care due to torture and other injuries they have received due to the war. According to the UNHCR, “Just over half of the 88,447 Iraqis who registered as refugees in Syria since the beginning of this year were in need of special assistance, including “many” torture victims.”
Refugees from Iraq continue to flee their homes, but with even Syria imposing tighter restrictions, and governments around the Middle East and internationally failing to effectively account for the crisis, smaller organizations, such as the controversial Sadr Movement and Association of Muslim Scholars may begin to play an increasingly important role.
Please read Nir Rosen’s “The Flight From Iraq” for a very insightful, in-depth piece about the Iraqi refugee crisis in the Middle East.
With this episode, we inaugurate the first member of our expanded team in Baghdad. Our costs have greatly increased with the larger staff, so please consider making a donation to support our work!