Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Refugee restrictions increase burden on displaced Iraqis

It is estimated that at least 2.2 million Iraqi refugees are now in Syria and Jordan, having fled the ongoing civil strife in their homeland. Now, as Damascus and Amman look to manage the strain of the influx, the two governments are imposing new restrictions on refugees, IRIN reported Sunday.

In order to enter Jordan, refugees must be younger than 20 or older than 40, show proof of financial stability, and carry a new G-series passport. In Syria, it is slightly easier to enter, but refugees may only stay for a period of three months, after which they must renew residency by leaving and then reentering the country.

Because of the new restrictions, many families are being split up at the borders, with only those qualified being allowed to enter and the rest being forced to remain in Iraq.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called on the international community to help with the Iraqi refugee surge, but unfortunately, assistance has been minimal. Bordering countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and Iran have also done little to ease the burden on Syria and Jordan. UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis said that the agency has registered over 130,000 Iraqi refugees since the beginning of the year, but the daunting task of resettlement still looms.

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