Thousands of Iraqi refugees seek resettlement in West
October 28, 2009 by Webmaster
Photo: Stephen Starr/IRIN
|In October, UNHCR said that since 2007 the agency had recommended the resettlement of 82,500 Iraqi refugees from the Middle East to third countries, mainly Western|
Iraqi refugee Leila Johanna Isho is determined to make this her last year in Syria. “Most of our family is scattered across Europe and I have a cousin in Canada so we don’t mind where we move, but we have to move because life is becoming too difficult here,” said Isho, sitting with her three children in their cramped single-room apartment in Masakin Berzeh, a working-class neighbourhood of Damascus.
With savings run dry, incomes unable to match inflation, more stringent visa requirements, and a return to Baghdad ruled too risky by most, the numbers of Iraqi families seeking resettlement from Syria and across the Middle East to Europe and North America is rising fast.
In Geneva earlier this month, Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said that since 2007 the agency had recommended the resettlement of 82,500 Iraqi refugees from the Middle East to third countries: 62,000 to the USA, with the remainder to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and several other European states.
The Syrian government says it has registered 1.1 million Iraqis crossing into Syria since 2007, while as of the end of September UNHCR in Damascus had officially registered 215,429, with 27,198 registrations for 2009.
With the 25 October bombings in Baghdad which killed at least 155 people – the worst attacks for two years – UNHCR is braced for a renewed movement of refugees should security in Iraq continue to deteriorate.