February 14, 2007

Good News For Some Iraqis

It will probably happen very slowly, but the Bush administration has finally agreed to take in more Iraqi refugees:

WASHINGTON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday it aimed to interview about 7,000 Iraqi refugees for possible U.S. resettlement by the end of September as it sought to blunt criticism that it took in only 202 last year.

The State Department also said it would offer $18 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help displaced Iraqis, acting after lawmakers sharply questioned why the United States had resettled so few since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

... The UNHCR estimates that up to 2 million Iraqis have moved to neighboring countries, mainly Syria and Jordan, before and since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, while 1.7 million Iraqis are internally displaced.

... The United States has accepted 466 Iraqi refugees since 2003, triggering congressional criticism that it had not done enough. The State Department last week said it had created a task force to ensure the United States was doing "its share." ...

As I noted the other day, Sweden has been taking in lots of Iraqi refugees:

... More than 9,000 Iraqis applied for refugee status in Sweden in 2006, nearly four times as many as in 2005.

... "Sweden can help many of them, but Sweden cannot help all of them," the ministers said.

... Officials say 80 to 90% of Iraqi asylum requests made in Sweden since January 2006 have been approved. ...

Which is to say that last year, Sweden took in several times more Iraqi refugees than the Bush administration has taken in since it started bombing their country. Still, I really do hope that they'll reserve places for all the Iraqis who worked for the occupation, because those people are probably as good as dead the minute the U.S. pulls out. They and their families deserve to be offered somewhere to go if they want to leave.

Posted by natasha at February 14, 2007 10:33 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |