Happy world refugee day?

Today is World Refugee Day—never an occasion for wild celebration, and this year even less so than usual. According to a report (pdf) just released by the U.N. Refugee Agency, there are presently almost 10 million refugees in the world, more than at any point since 2002. After falling steadily over the past five years, ...

601066_070620_refugees_05.jpg
601066_070620_refugees_05.jpg

Today is World Refugee Day—never an occasion for wild celebration, and this year even less so than usual. According to a report (pdf) just released by the U.N. Refugee Agency, there are presently almost 10 million refugees in the world, more than at any point since 2002. After falling steadily over the past five years, this is the first time the number has risen. According to the report, the 14 percent jump last year was driven almost entirely by a huge spike in the number of Iraqis seeking refuge abroad.

ALI AL-SAADI/AFP

There are now about 1.5 million Iraqis who have fled their country, on top of another 1.8 million who have abandoned their homes but remain within the borders of Iraq. The situation won't be getting better any time soon, as tens of thousands continue to flood over the borders every month, and instability remains endemic. Considering that Sudan did fairly well last year—it was among the five nations with the most people voluntarily returning home, according to the U.N. report—Iraq may be well placed to take over the throne at the top of next year's FP Failed States Index.

Today is World Refugee Day—never an occasion for wild celebration, and this year even less so than usual. According to a report (pdf) just released by the U.N. Refugee Agency, there are presently almost 10 million refugees in the world, more than at any point since 2002. After falling steadily over the past five years, this is the first time the number has risen. According to the report, the 14 percent jump last year was driven almost entirely by a huge spike in the number of Iraqis seeking refuge abroad.

ALI AL-SAADI/AFP

There are now about 1.5 million Iraqis who have fled their country, on top of another 1.8 million who have abandoned their homes but remain within the borders of Iraq. The situation won’t be getting better any time soon, as tens of thousands continue to flood over the borders every month, and instability remains endemic. Considering that Sudan did fairly well last year—it was among the five nations with the most people voluntarily returning home, according to the U.N. report—Iraq may be well placed to take over the throne at the top of next year’s FP Failed States Index.

Given the role of the United States in creating this mess, these numbers should cause some hard thinking in Washington. The United States admitted a whopping 202 Iraqis for resettlement during 2006, and though plans are in place to take in 7,000 this year, compare that to the 850,000 Vietnamese who were given asylum in the U.S. during and after that war. It’s pretty weak.

Most Iraqis have run to Jordan or Syria (see this excellent Brookings report for more on that), but where should responsibility fall?

Sam duPont is a Master's candidate at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School and focused his capstone research on transitional democracies and elections in fragile states.

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