Posted by: Lister | March 8, 2007

30 million Iraqi refugees in America

That’s Edward M. Kennedy’s comparison.

Today, within Iraq, 1.6 million people have already fled or been expelled from their homes. An additional 1.8 million, fleeing sectarian violence, kidnappings, extortion, death threats and carnage, have sought refuge in neighboring countries. At least 700,000 are in Jordan, 600,000 in Syria, 100,000 in Egypt, 54,000 in Iran and 20,000 in Lebanon. Typically they are not living in refugee camps but have relocated in urban areas, where they must draw on their own meager resources to pay for food and shelter, and must depend on the good graces of the host governments.

The neighboring countries, in turn, are under enormous financial stress from the rapidly increasing needs of the refugees. In Jordan, they now make up more than 10 percent of the population — the equivalent of 30 million people flooding America’s shores. These countries are increasingly unable to meet the refugees’ basic needs.

The BBC gives slightly higher figures (a million in Syria, which has a population of about 20 million).

Population of Jordan (2005) — 5,350,000

So Kennedy is not exaggerating. In fact, things have gotten so bad that on Feb 8th, Rice authorized talks with Syria on Iraqi refugees.

Kennedy’s numbers, regarding America’s planned intake of refugees this year, may be out of date already. (America is planning to take in 7000 Iraqi refugees). So perhaps these numbers are old, too:

Our nation is spending $8 billion a month to wage the war in Iraq. Yet to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the refugees who have fled the war, the State Department plans to spend only $20 million in the current fiscal year.



  1. America is on target to accept 12,000 refugees in the year to October.

    The goal is far lower than other many countries, notably Sweden, which has admitted about 40,000 since 2003. And it’s only a small slice of the 2 million Iraqis who have fled to neighboring countries, mainly Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt.

    […] In July a group of lawmakers led by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., introduced a bill that would create an ambassador-level post at the White House to oversee efforts to assist Iraqi refugees. Currently, that policy is handled by the departments of State and Homeland Security.

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