Conservatives continue to live under the wild delusion that our intervention in Iraq
hasn't created any refugees has created only a fraction of the number of 4 million refugees reported by the UN and NGOs like Refugees International. Iraq Slogger shoots down that fantasy.
But then there was that field of trash. What had looked at first glance like just a garbage dump was dotted with crude brick homes and mud huts with walls reinforced with tin cans and roofs of corrugated iron and cardboard.
Small children played barefoot in the dirt. An elderly man hobbled by on a crutch. The water buffalo, valued in the south of Iraq for their milk, wallowed in stagnant ponds that had turned a dark maroon color from the waste.
There is no clean water, no sewage, no electricity. Just makeshift houses in a seemingly never-ending field of trash.
The police said the Shiite families had been driven out of al-Haswa south of Baghdad by sectarian cleansing. They said there were perhaps 100 families who had arrived over the past year.
One of the refugees prefers life under Saddam:
"Life was better under Saddam because then there were no terrorists. Nothing has changed except they removed Saddam - we didn't have electricity or water then either."
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says there are now 2.2 million Iraqi refugees and another 2 million people who have been displaced internally. The situation for the internally displaced is increasingly grim:
More than half of Iraq's 18 governorates are preventing displaced people from entering their territories, either by stopping them at checkpoints or by refusing to register them for food aid and other basic services.
Oddly enough, there wasn't a single question in this week's Republican or Democratic debates about the Iraqi refugee problem and what we intend to do about it. These people will be George W Bush's living legacy for decades to come. It's time we assume our responsibility for their plight and undertake a major initiative to help them out.
Update: Cirby points out that the striked out claim above was over the top so I've amended it.
Some conservatives, like Cirby, have made the claim that there must be far fewer refugees than the UN and NGOs are reporting. If the Bush administration disputes the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the governments of Jordan and Syria on the number of refugees I'd like to see the documentation. I haven't been able to find it. In fact, I haven't found much discussion at all concerning this issue by government or military officials or political leaders from either party. That's why I continue writing these posts--to get at the truth about what's happening.
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