Britain's response to the Iraq Refugee Crisis is Rubbish

Heres a contender for Understatement Of The Week: "The international community clearly needs to do a lot more," said Laurens Jolles, the UNHCR's representative in Syria, whose office continues to receive about 1,000 Iraqi refugees each day. Jolles was in Brussels this week to raise awareness of the plight of Iraqi refugees, who continue to be ignored by the EU and indeed the rest of the world.

Here are some stats (source: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/188270,eu-accused-of-failing-iraqi-refugees--feature.html)

-The 2003 invasion produced 4 million displaced people. Half of them remained within Iraq, the rest fled overseas.

-Of these, just 40,000 applied for refugee status in Europe last year. And of the 31,000 cases that were considered by governments, only 18,300 were accepted.

-By contrast, around 1.5 million Iraqi refugees are hosted by neighbouring Syria. Nearly three-quarters of a million are in Jordan, swelling its population by 10 per cent.

-In the last three months of 2007, the UK granted refugee status to 45 Iraqis (this stats from the Home Office).

What little concern there is in the UK has been centred on the plight of The Iraqi interpreters Iraqis who were employed by the UK forces and have been branded collaboraters by militia. Many have fled to neighbouring countries or area in hiding in Iraq. While its entirely right that the UK helps these people, who are basically on hit lists because they helped our soldiers, what about the others?  We were worried that the UK government would help the Iraqi interpreters and say job done after that, doing little to help the millions of others. Unfortunately they havent even managed that.

According to the Times, of the 700 who applied through the Ministry of Defence for the special settlement scheme announced by the Government last year, 300 have been rejected already and as of January only 170 had been told they were eligible, the rest still being processed. An additional 180 Iraqis applied through the Foreign Office because they worked at the British Embassy  -  38 of these have been turned down.

One of the best sources of this is blogger Dan Hardie, who got the whole campaign going for the interpreters. His blog at Liberal Conspiracy includes correspondence with people still in hiding in Iraq, waiting for someone to help them.

Lest any of the Migration Watch brigade are reading, Im not suggesting that the UK should accommodate all 4 million displaced Iraqis like all refugees, they are of course going to head to neighbouring countries first. But as part of the coalition forces that invaded Iraq, we should shoulder our share of the burden: rather than leave it to Syria and Jordan or worse still, leave people in the hands of people who are trying to murder them.

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