Tens of thousands of Iraqis could come to U.S. in '09 ?
What are your thoughts?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has surpassed its goal of admitting 12,000 Iraqi refugees this year and expects more, perhaps tens of thousands, next year, the State Department said on Friday.
The United States expects to admit a minimum of 17,000 Iraqi refugees in fiscal 2009, which begins October 1, the department's senior coordinator for refugees said. Thousands more Iraqis and their family members could arrive via a special visa program for people who worked for the United States or its contractors.
"I think you'll see the U.S. government admitting over the course of fiscal 2009 tens of thousands of Iraqis into the United States," coordinator James Foley told reporters.
Up to 3,000 could come from Baghdad, where the United States launched interviews this year, he said.
So far this year 12,118 Iraqi refugees have arrived and another 1,000 are booked to travel to the United States by the end of this month, when the U.S. fiscal year ends, he said.
This marks a huge leap from just 1,600 Iraqis who were admitted in the previous year, a number that drew widespread criticism from refugee groups who said Washington should do more to help solve a crisis affecting millions of Iraqis since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.
But it is still lower than the number some other countries have taken. Sweden, a country of 9 million people, has admitted over 40,000 Iraqis since 2003.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 2 million Iraqis are living abroad, mostly in neighboring Jordan and Syria. More than 2.5 million are internally displaced.
Foley called on the government of oil-rich Iraq to do more to help Iraqi refugees abroad as well as plan for returning Iraqis by addressing their needs for security, social services and property compensation.
So far, he said, Iraq has only spent about $25 million to help its refugees abroad, and provided about $200 million for an initiative to help returning refugees. The latter amount was "rather small" considering the number of Iraqi refugees and the improving security situation inside Iraq, Foley said.
"One cannot rule out in these situations the possibility that the refugees in large numbers themselves will decide it's time to go back, but will the Iraqi government be ready for that? That's what we have to prepare for I think," Foley said.
The United States spent over $318 million in humanitarian aid for Iraqi refugees this year, Foley said. Washington sought support from other donors, "particularly in the region, not to mention, the government of Iraq itself."
Foley said he was grateful that Syria, a country with which the United States has strained relations, had agreed to a new facility for refugee processing, which would enable Washington to handle larger numbers of refugees.
"Despite the vagaries in our bilateral relationship which all are familiar with, I think we have managed to agree that for humanitarian purposes we will together make this happen for the sake of the Iraqi refugees," he said.
Grumpy Old Man - Yes I am asking a question. I wanted to see what others thought of this plan, the problems that may arise and solutions.
I am the Mom to a Sgt. currently deployed in Iraq. While I am not aware that his translator is being threatened by death squads - it is something to consider. My son's company escorts school children, donates school supplies, and gave uniforms for an entire soccer team. I am well aware of what these people are going through!
I obviously struck a raw nerve with you!
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
how can you write so much without having a word limit
- Grumpy Old ManLv 51 decade ago
You aren't asking a question.
Do you see a problem with this? Why? Do you think the translators who have been helping our troops and are now being targeted by death squads should be allowed in?
Do you think that doctors who are being targeted by death squads should be allowed in?
- 1 decade ago
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
- Anonymous1 decade ago
It's the right thing to do when you displace thousands of civilians.
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- 1 decade ago
Leave them there.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Real nice eh? Thanks for nothing Dubya.