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Archive for September 10th, 2007

Importing sectarian tensions

Posted by Judy K. Warner on September 10, 2007

A report from Michigan points to the sectarian strife that has arisen among Iraqis in the United States over who should be admitted as refugees.

The Christians — who are the largest and most established group of Iraqis in the United States — say they are the most deserving of entry to the United States because they are the most vulnerable: a religious minority with no militias or tribal ties to protect them.

But the Sunnis bristle at these pronouncements and say travel permits should be handed out evenly among the refugee population, not just to those with family ties in the United States.

The Shiites — a more radical group comprised primarily of those who fled in the 1990s after the first Gulf War — say they don’t want any “Baathists” to be allowed to export to the United States the violence plaguing Iraq.

Here the Sunnis bristle again, saying fear-mongering about “Baathists” — followers of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein — is merely a code-word for keeping Sunnis out.

Meanwhile, the mayor of the Detroit suburb of Warren with a large Iraqi community has vowed to protect the town with a high unemployment rate from being “unfairly burdened” with thousands of refugees.

We’re told that many thousands of Iraqis need to be resettled in the U.S. But it looks like the kind of sectarian divides that have caused the refugee problem in Iraq are already present here, and will be made worse by bringing in large numbers of new Iraqis. In all the talk about the Iraqi refugees who “need” to come here, I haven’t heard anything about which sect of Islam they belong to, or if they are Christian. Ignoring these sectarian differences didn’t serve us well at the beginning of the war in Iraq, and it’s not going to serve us well to ignore these differences among the refugees either.

Posted in Iraqi refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program | Comments Off on Importing sectarian tensions

Up to $24 million extra for refugees

Posted by Judy K. Warner on September 10, 2007

 Reuters reports:

President George W. Bush authorized up to $24 million to meet “unexpected and urgent” needs of refugees from conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka, according to a memorandum released on Monday.

The amount from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund was not to exceed $24 million “for the purpose of meeting unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs,” Bush said in a memorandum to the Secretary of State.The funds were for international, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations, and administrative expenses of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, the memo said.

The funds were to address “humanitarian needs resulting from conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka,” the memo said.

Posted in Refugee Resettlement Program | 1 Comment »

Iraqi Refugees headed to Denver and to a city near you

Posted by Ann Corcoran on September 10, 2007

This afternoon, just as General Petraeus is telling Congress that things are looking up in Iraq, I see the Denver Post is reporting on 1400 Iraqis on their way to the US as refugees.  The article is your typical story with accounts of injured translators used as the reason we must bring 12,000 Iraqis here by next year.    You can bet all 12,000 are not injured scared translators.  Echoing one of my concerns:

I don’t trust the (government) to vet them correctly,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.

And another:

We’re directly affected by what’s happening in Iraq and the rest of the world. … I’d like to see what tangible we can do to help fulfill our moral obligations,” said Colorado state Rep. Joe Rice, a Democrat who served as a civil affairs soldier in Iraq and hears regularly from Iraqis wanting out.

But Rice said he’s also deeply conflicted. Many of those fleeing Iraq “are the very people who are needed to try to stabilize things, to build a new society there,” he said.

“If all the good people leave, who’s left to build a new society?”

We need to set up a safe refugee camp in the region, perhaps in Kuwait, and take care of people until the country is stabilized and they can return home to rebuild Iraq.    While our soldiers are fighting and dying  for their country, we don’t need to bring thousands of Iraqis here to live on welfare.

Posted in Iraqi refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program, Who is going where | 1 Comment »

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