The Exodus: Discussing Iraq’s Refugee Crisis


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My colleague Nir Rosen will have the cover story of the New York Times Magazine this Sunday in a major article titled “The Exodus: An Account of the Iraq Refugee Crisis.”
For interested folks in or around Washington, I will be hosting a brown bag lunch session with Nir Rosen this Monday, May 14 from 12:15 to 1:45 at the New America Foundation in Washington. The public is invited, but do let us know at if you can join.
A couple of data points to consider. Nearly 2 million Iraqis have fled Iraq for neighboring countries and another 1.9 million Iraqis have been internally displaced, amounting to roughly 15% of the Iraqi population.
Most of the external refugees have made their way into Syria and Jordan, and according to new UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes — who I recently spoke to at length at a dinner hosted by the UN Foundation — this situation is creating serious hardships that are tough for Syria and Jordan to manage without considerable international support.
In contrast, the United States has granted only 466 visas during the Iraq War. According to both outgoing Asst. Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Barry Lowenkron and Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Ellen Sauerbrey — who both attended the UN Foundation dinner — while the U.S. has made way for roughly 7,200 visa acceptances this next year — and more than 2,000 have been cleared through a UN High Commission for Refugees process that the State Department requires — not a single visa, not one from this group — has been cleared by the Department of Homeland Security.
Even people inside the Bush administration who recognize that fixing this problem of the US not opening to any refugees is fundamental in repairing America’s image in the world can’t do it because DHS is manically focused on building a “fortress America.” And that is actually undoing what America is and means for many in the world.
Read Nir Rosen’s article. There are bits of an interview he did with John Bolton that are remarkable. Bolton goes even further insisting that the United States has no further responsibilities for the situation in Iraq, for displaced persons, or for any other dilemma that may be connected to this war.
We will have a recording on the New America website of Nir Rosen’s presentation.
— Steve Clemons


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