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    Ann Corcoran
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Archive for May 17th, 2008

Iraq government is not supporting Iraqi refugees

Posted by Judy K. Warner on May 17, 2008

Walter Pincus reports in the Washington Post today:

Despite U.S. pressure over the past month, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has yet to provide significant financial support for the nearly 2 million Iraqi refugees in Syria and Lebanon, according to administration and congressional sources, even as the United Nations has told donors that it may scale back its assistance to the effort because of insufficient funds.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees — whose programs for Iraqi refugees and displaced people are projected to cost over $800 million this year, according to the State Department — informed a meeting of donor nations last week that it may need to slash support for Iraqis in Syria and Jordan because the agency has received only 60 percent of the funds it needs to help Iraqi refugees the rest of this year.

Last month, State Department officials told Congress that many countries have held back funds for refugees because the Iraqi government has delivered only $15 million to Syria, where there are about 1 million refugees, and $2 million to Lebanon, where there are 200,000; and it has pledged $8 million to Jordan, where there are some 500,000. Ambassador James B. Foley, the State Department coordinator for Iraq refugees, said at the time that the United States would press the Maliki government to increase its support.

The Bush administration has provided $200 million to the UNHCR for the Iraqi refugees. Congress is trying to add more funds, and “has also pressed the Maliki government to provide more.”

Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) and a bipartisan group of colleagues wrote Maliki last month requesting that he use $1 billion in oil revenue to support the refugees and those displaced within Iraq’s borders. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) also wrote Maliki last month with a similar request.

Delahunt and others on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are trying to add another $675 million for refugees — some $454 million above the president’s request — to the emergency supplemental bill pending before Congress.

I posted on the Iraqi government’s failure to care for its internal refugees (IDPs — internally displaced persons) a few days ago. Some Iraqi legislators are upset about it. Prime Minister Malaki’s government has not been able to spend the tens of billions of dollars it has at its disposal, for reasons that are not clear to me. It’s not just the refugees, it seems to be every area that they should be attending to. I’d like to know why. Getting the Iraqi government to assume its responsibilities — for its refugees and for everything else — seems like a more important priority than pushing other countries to take the refugees who should be going home.

Posted in Iraqi refugees | 2 Comments »

Bosnians, Iowa, meatpackers and more

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 17, 2008

We’ve written many times before about the unholy alliance between meatpacking giants like Tyson’s Food and Swift & Co., the government and the refugee resettlement industry.  Now, bits and pieces of this alliance are coming into better view.  Here is a lengthy segment from the Agribusiness Examiner N.101 11jan01 which I am picking up in the middle of the document:

…….

But the story continues, Limbacher [Newsmax reporter] notes, for in the intervening years, IBP’s “good deed” seems to have been rewarded, often through the good graces of the Clinton administration’s Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

One way the beef giant had become dominant in its field was by recruiting low-skilled non-union foreign workers to staff its slaughterhouses, where the work is always arduous and often dangerous. IBP had been actively recruiting laborers from all over the world for years.

A little more than a year after IBP helped facilitate Tyson’s takeover of Hudson, the Journal explored the company’s practice of hiring foreign workers under the headline: “With Help from INS, U.S. Meatpacker Taps Mexican Work Force.”

“So why isn’t the INS turning its searchlights on IBP’s Mexico campaign?,” the Journal asked. “Why, instead, is the federal agency hailing IBP as a model of cooperation? The answer reflects the complex interplay between public policy, a company’s economic needs and a government agency’s political interests,” reported the paper.

“Complex interplay?” Limbacher scoffs, “basically, in 1996 the Clinton INS offered the beef giant a program called Basic Pilot, which was designed to help big employers of foreign labor avoid undocumented workers and comply with immigration laws.”

But in practice, he adds, Basic Pilot often meant that immigration laws were ignored altogether. The meatpacking giant, which was hit by INS raids six times between 1994 and 1997 (the year of the Hudson buyout), hasn’t had a single INS raid since. John Nathan, the INS official overseeing the program, told the Journal that “the INS assumes a high degree of compliance” with Basic Pilot.

“And IBP’s good fortune didn’t end there,” Limbacher continues, “turns out the Clinton administration’s Bosnian refugee resettlement efforts also helped to keep labor costs down. Since 1995, for instance, the town of Waterloo, Iowa — population 65,000 – has been swamped with 6,000 Bosnian refugees, many of whom wound up working for the No. 1 local employer, IBP.”

Until recently, IBP’s 2,000-strong Waterloo workforce was one-third Bosnian. Most refugee families that settle there have a family member who at one time or another worked for the meatpacking giant. In fact, the meatpacking industry has a history of recruiting on the ground in Yugoslavia. But during the Clinton years, companies like IBP haven’t had to travel that far.

Since 1995, the Clinton INS has resettled over 80,000 Balkan refugees, mainly Bosnian Muslims, primarily in America’s Midwest. The immigrant deluge has earned Iowa the distinction of being the only state in the union with its own refugee bureau.

So, as Limbacher concludes his intriquing story, “perhaps it’s fitting that IBP should finally be absorbed by Tyson Foods, with its long history of financial backing of both Bill and Hillary Clinton, especially since it was the Clinton Agriculture Department’s heavy hand that brought the two meat processing giants together in the first place.” 

Lighbulbs flashing!    So that is why Iowa is one of the top 10 volags that regularly contract with the US State Department to resettle refugees.

And, more lightbulbs!  The US State Department is helping big companies by bringing cheap LEGAL labor through the refugee program couched as humanitarian work.    Clinton was heavily involved in importing what amounts to slave labor all to help the meatpackers not have to pay decent wages to American citizens.  Church groups are helping too! 

Flash!  For those of you wondering where all the Bosnian Muslims were coming from in recent years, here is the answer.

 

Posted in Changing the way we live, Muslim refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program | 12 Comments »

The Rohingya in Pakistan

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 17, 2008

This is another story to add to our category called “Rohingya Reports” which we created recently as an archive for information about Burmese Muslims known as Rohingya who have an on-going political campaign to be resettled in the West.

The Rohingya are one of the ethnic minorities driven from Burma by the military regime.   So far everything we have read about the Rohingya is that they are strict adherents to Islam and this article confirms that those who have migrated to Pakistan are training their children with “proper” Islamic religious instruction.

The Huffington Post article by Derek Flood is long and I encourage you to read it all, here are some highlights:

Aziz, my diminutive driver hired from the Karachi Sheraton who was ferrying me from location to location around the city on an unrelated assignment, one day mentioned off handedly that a community of Muslim refugees from Burma attended the mosque near his home in Korangi. This piqued my curiosity considerably. I’ve had an idea for sometime that by meeting people living on the world’s geopolitical periphery, I can learn the most about both globalization and its attendant wars.

Aziz was a mohajir, an Urdu speaking Muslim whose family migrated from northern India to Karachi, then the capital of a newly created but ill conceived Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The root of the Arabic term mohajir is hijira, symbolizing the Prophet Mohammed’s flight from Mecca to Medina in the 7th century. This term is used to describe what was likely the 20th century’s largest migration that took place in the ashes of the British Raj when the empire abandoned the “jewel of the crown”. Aziz was an enthusiastic member of an evangelical, Islamic revivalist movement called Tablighi Jamaat (“Conveying Group”). One of the Tablighi’s primary aims is to renew religiosity amongst wayward Muslims and other communities at risk in the Muslim world where the movement believes the influence of the faith has lessened due to political and cultural factors. Tablighi Jamaat was busy influencing a new group of mohajirs, the Rohingya of western Burma.

It was here in the warrens of Karachi’s underbelly that the Rohingya founded a settlement after fleeing persecution by the Tatmadaw (the Burmese military). The Rohingya, after suffering acute religious persecution, were a perfect fit for the Tablighi’s proselytizing. 

Visit to a Madrassa:

After hearing first hand accounts of hijira from the Rohingya elders, Aziz and I then visited a bare-walled, local Burmese religious school called Madrassa Usmani.

In Pakistan, it was the Islamic charities who provided aid and “proper” religious instruction for the children of the community as per the standards of Pakistani society. It is from just this milieu where students can be cultivated into fighters. I left with only the hope that these vulnerable, young Rohingya would not fall for the siren song of violent radicalism gripping much of modern Pakistan. As we have learned the hard lessons from the militancy spawned in Pakistan’s notorious Afghan refugee camps, it is not terribly difficult for yesterday’s victims to become tomorrow’s aggressors.

The dangerous neighborhood: 

As we drove away from the rough neighborhood these former refugees now call home, I naively said to my driver, “I actually felt pretty safe there.” Aziz looked at me skeptically and said in his heavy Pakistani accent, “that is the most dangerous area of Karachi.” Considering Karachi is one of the world’s most violent cities, I would shudder the next day when I read in the nation’s leading English-language daily that five men had been shot dead in Korangi during my brief visit.

As we drove out of the crowded slum into the overwhelming traffic of Karachi proper, I thought it a strange fate that the Rohingya fled an area where they faced state orchestrated violence only to arrive in another area plagued with rampant crime and anti-state and sectarian terrorism. Karachi may have its dreadful shortcomings but at least here in their relative anonymity, the Rohingya are free. 

Free?  Yes, free to practice Islam in its most virulent form.  

Note to State Department, think long and hard about whether this is a group of refugees we wish to resettle in American cities.  Our melting pot is pretty good, but it can’t handle religious extremists.   A good job in a meatpacking plant will not erase fundamental Islamic training.

Posted in diversity's dark side, Muslim refugees, Refugee Resettlement Program, Rohingya Reports | 2 Comments »

 
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