Iraqi Refugees .. Escalating Crisis

  • 14 February 2008

The Iraqi refugee problem is worsening over time and is complicating all efforts directed toward mitigating it. In addition to the migration of Iraqis to foreign lands, there has been an exponential increase in the number of internally displaced people. Latest UN figures show that about 4 million Iraqi refugees are undernourished. The data also reveals that the number of migrants have increased to about 2.5 million in 2006. Definitely, the crisis of Iraqi refugees and migrants is strongly linked to the current situation of the country that is riddled with violence and disorder. Clearly, Iraqis are seeking safe  havens and a secure life either outside the country or in those areas of Iraq that are not in the grip of violence and terrorist attacks. Latest statistics also shows that about 40% out of 27 million population, i.e. about 10 million people, do not have access to drinking water, despite the country’s enormous wealth in natural resources and the recent revival of its economy.

Undoubtedly, the refugee crisis involving millions of Iraqis should force all political parties of Iraq to overcome their differences and to forge a national agreement on the building of a new Iraq based on unity and democracy. The present differences among political parties are having a dangerous impact on the stability of the country. Iraq enjoys all the important fundamentals for economic growth and it has already reached a healthy 7% growth rate, according to UN estimates and reserves worth US $48 billion, with oil exports rising to 1.6 million barrels per day. However, all this progress has had little affect on the worsening refugee crisis.
The role played by the relevant international organizations in this respect appears to have been ineffective as the UNHCR in Iraq is facing financial problems, which reveals the full extent of the crisis. The UN Refugee Agency only has US $9 million to spend, despite having asked for US $60 million to provide immediate assistance to Iraqi refugees. Despite different problems affecting efforts toward resolving Iraqi refugees crisis, one hopes the issue will not be written off into a simple document on refugees and consigned languishing in a closed drawer at the United Nations. The humanitarian dimension of this acute problem requires contribution of all the concerned parties fully, which should be followed with the proper handling of the issue.