A summit was held in Amman, Jordan to discuss the refugee crisis. War and sectarian violence in Iraq has caused over two million Iraqis to leave the country and over two million displaced within Iraq. During the international conference, Muhammad Hajj Hamoud, secretary general of Iraq’s foreign ministry, warned of a humanitarian crisis. He urged host countries to help ease the burden of the refugees and not to forcibly deport these refugees back to Iraq while Iraq remains unstable. He also urged the international community to help the countries shouldering much of the burden by providing more aid and helping asylum-seeking refugees find permanent homes.
The two countries hosting the majority of the refugees are Jordan and Syria. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 750,000 Iraqis sought refuge in Jordan and 1,200,000 fled to Syria. In May, Jordanian officials claimed that the government spent one billion dollars a year hosting these refugees. However, despite this large sum of money, many children are not able to receive medical treatment or attend school. In Syria, refugees have turn to prostitution and child trafficking as means to earn money.
A day prior to the conference, Amnesty International released a statement addressing the refugee crisis. In the statement, the organization called for “urgent international action” to assist Syria and Jordan to supporting their growing numbers of refugees. Without international help, especially in the form of aid money, Iraq’s neighbors will not be able to continue to support these large numbers of refugees. If these countries are not able to support the refugees, many incoming Iraqis will be turned away at the border, forced to return to unsafe and unstable conditions. In addition, it is likely that many more refugees will be forcibly deported back to Iraq.
For more information please see:
Amnesty International: “Iraq refugees crisis nears breaking point” 26 July 2007.
Amnesty International: “Iraq: International support urgently needed to address spiraling refugee crisis” 26 July 2007.
Amnesty International: “Iraq: The situation of Iraqi refugees in Syria” 26 July 2007.
BBC: “Crisis warning on Iraq refugees” 26 July 2007.
Canada.com: “Iraq urges neighbors to end abuse of refugees” 26 July 2007.
UNHCR: “UNHCR deplores forced return of 135 Iraqis by Turkey” 26 July 2007.
Boston Globe: “Amnesty urges help for Iraqi refugees” 25 July 2007.