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Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Iraqi refugees

With all the articles (ok, not that many, but a steady trickle) about the number of people either fleeing Iraq or becoming internal refugees, it's remarkable how few (none that I've seen, actually) actually discuss the refugees themselves. For example, back when the U.S. was bombing Fallujah to smithereens, I asked where were all the reporters (or any reporters) talking to the people who fled Fallujah, many of whom were living in tent cities in the desert. They were completely invisible as far as the corporate media was concerned.

Today's San Jose Mercury News finally bucks this trend with a story by one of my favorite mainstream reporters, Hannah Allam, herself a refugee of sorts (formerly the Baghdad bureau chief for Knight-Ridder, she's now part of the Beirut bureau of McClatchy). Allam profiles some of the 600,000 Iraqis living in Jordan (yes, that figure is for Jordan alone, and doesn't include "at least that many more [who] have fled to Syria, Egypt and other countries, testament to the viciousness of the war in their homeland.") As Allam notes, "the departed represent about 5 percent of Iraq's population of 27 million."

One of the most interesting parts of the article, similar to many of the things we read in years past (though not recently) from Riverbend on Baghdad Burning, is the intermingling of Shia and Sunni Iraqis in Jordan. There may be an "age-old" religious division between Shia and Sunni, but it certainly didn't manifest itself as a bloodbath until the Americans showed up to "liberate" the country.

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