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The Burden Hardest to Bear: The Refugees of Iraq

On April 17th 2007 the BBC World Service broadcast a story which until recently has received little attention in the media. With the tensions and deaths of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and the UN focus on Iran and missing sailors, the consequences of conflict in the region has only recently focused on the resulting refugees leaving Iraq for neighboring countries and overseas.

Today the UN addressed the issue of Iraqi refugees. The UN wanted the two main recipient countries, Syria and Jordan to accept more refugees from Iraq. Approximately two million reside outside Iraq in Syria and Jordan alone, with another 50,000 leaving Iraq each month. With around 4 million Iraqis residing outside their home country worldwide, the strain on Syria and Jordan in not only accepting more refugees, but maintaining the current refugees in good care is likely a burden too hard to bear.

“I hope this conference will galvanise international support to provide them with more protection and assistance and I hope it will mobilise resources in establishing much needed protection space,” Ban Ki-moon , UN Secretary General

The UN urged all countries to accept a number of refugees from Iraq, and for the wealthier countries such as the US and EU to assist financially as well as accepting a number of refugees into their own countries as well. The only solution is international solidarity on the issue, said High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres before the conference held today by the UN refugee agency. He claims this as the worst refugee crisis to hit the Middle East since 1948.

Where Iraqis have fled to:

Syria: 1,200,000
Jordan: 750,000
Gulf states: 200,000
Egypt: 100,000
Iran: 54,000
Lebanon: 40,000
Turkey: 10,000
Internally displaced: 1,900,000
Source: UNHCR

For Stories of Individual Iraqi Refugees: BBC News – Iraqi Refugee Stories 



Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration