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IRAQI REFUGEE CRISIS May 30, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Iraq Policy.
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The media is the arena for politics, which is the reason that people such as myself who turn it off find politics so strange. Politicians direct their antics for this peculiar virtual world where reality is caught in the cleverness of spin and photo ops. Equally, in such an edited arena power lies, or is reflected in the editors, whose power in part is to set the rules for who will be heard and seen. A significant group of people – Iraqi refugees – are not been seen and heard, even as their existence and out presence over there makes them our responsibility.


Still journalism still happens, if at the periphery of the main stage of infotainment. Deutsche Wella reports on the UN Conference for Refugees being held in Geneva:

Some 50,000 Iraqis are forced to leave their homes each month, according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. Half of the country’s four million refugees are displaced within Iraq, while the other two million have found refuge elsewhere, mainly in neighboring Syria or Jordan.

 

UN emergency relief coordinator John Holmes said an additional four million Iraqis are urgently in need of foreign aid.

 

Iraqis wait to register for refugee status at a UN office in Damascus

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Iraqis wait to register for refugee status at a UN office in Damascus

 

Holmes said that an estimated 35,000 civilians were killed and another 36,000 injured in Iraq in 2006 alone. The survivors increasingly face violence, unemployment and lack of basic services as a result of religious, ethnic and political strife.

The Australian Government, perhaps, with its strategic minimum engagement in Iraq designed to reinforce the American Alliance says nothing, knows nothing, hears nothing, following a well known defensive maneuver that proved so successful in relation to AWB scandal. It would be a wonderful irony, however impregnated with profound and grievous human tragedy, should a number of these Iraqis found themselves on boats off the coast and be declared to be “illegal migrants”. Doubtless the government would find such a situation a godsend, given the circumstance that they find themselves in, as reflected by the polls. Desperation may have found the political turnaround of Tampa II, and political salvation.

 

Frank Rice, in The New York Times (via Common Dreams) sums up what is happening in the US:

When all else fails, those pious Americans who conceived and directed the Iraq war fall back on moral self-congratulation: at least we brought liberty and democracy to an oppressed people. But that last-ditch rationalization has now become America’s sorriest self-delusion in this tragedy.

However wholeheartedly we disposed of their horrific dictator, the Iraqis were always pawns on the geopolitical chessboard rather than actual people in the administration’s reckless bet to “transform” the Middle East. From “Stuff happens!” on, nearly every aspect of Washington policy in Iraq exuded contempt for the beneficiaries of our supposed munificence. Now this animus is completely out of the closet. Without Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz to kick around anymore, the war’s dead-enders are pinning the fiasco on the Iraqis themselves. Our government abhors them almost as much as the Lou Dobbs spear carriers loathe those swarming “aliens” from Mexico.

The core of the American Government’s policy is summed up by Frank Rich as:

But [Bush’s] silence about Iraq’s mass exodus is not merely another instance of deceptive White House P.R.; it’s part of a policy with a huge human cost. The easiest way to keep the Iraqi plight out of sight, after all, is to prevent Iraqis from coming to America.

In the meantime other governments, with greater conscience and humanity are taking in some of the refugees. Sweden will take 15,000 Iraqis even though it was not involved in either the invasion or occupation of Iraq. We await what the Australian Government will do, and expect only the silent snarl of cynicism and the cant of political expediency.

 

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