<\body> Stories in America: Iraqi refugees: "We can't return"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Iraqi refugees: "We can't return"

"The Iraqi government claims lots of people have returned home because of the improved security. That's not true. They have been forced to go back because they cannot get residency in Syria."

This is progress.

2.4m Iraqis internally displaced
2m Iraqi refugees abroad
Iraqi government offering $800 to those who return
3,650 families registered in Baghdad for grant
6,000 families waiting to register for grant
Source: International Organisation for Migration

From the BBC:
Noor, who is Sunni, and her family arrived in Syria 18 months ago and settled in Damascus.

We left Baghdad because we were threatened by the Mehdi army.

We had to go immediately, leaving everything: clothes, furniture, all the things you accumulate when you live more than 20 years in the same house.

Things had been getting worse for a while. One event especially, sticks in my mind.

Neighbours of ours had been forcibly removed from their home three houses down from us.

One morning a few days after they had disappeared, one of my daughters walked down the road and saw the heads of our neighbours lined up on the wall of the house.

She was hysterical and couldn't leave the house for weeks. If someone went out we never knew if they would return. So, we left for general security reasons as well as the specific threat.

It was a sad departure. Leaving our country and heading for the unknown, without any planning or financial resources. It's hard to describe how it felt.

Here in Syria we live in a third-floor flat. It's very cold - but the price of fuel is high. We lack many basic things: blankets, fuel for cooking and heating.

The biggest irony is that we fled an oil-rich country - for a place where we cannot afford the fuel bills.

Our situation frightens me. I cannot stress enough - there are no jobs for us here in Syria.

I am 55 now and life is a struggle. We spend long hours looking for work so we can put food on the table. It's survival, no more and no less.


At 1/24/2008 12:55 AM, Blogger JACK BOO said...

“Thank God we returned and found the situation better than when we left.”

“I can't wait to get back.”

Would these comments be considered progress as well?

Oh well, at least the occupants of Saddam's mass graves won't have to suffer because of Syria's prohibitive residency policies and lousy job market.


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