Iraq is in the throes of the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since the Palestinian exodus from Israel in 1948, a mass flight out of and within the country that is ravaging basic services and commerce, swamping neighboring nations with nearly 2 million refugees and building intense pressure for emigration to Europe and the United States, according to the United Nations and refugee experts.
That's the opening of a SF Chronicle story by Reason Contributing Editor Carolyn Lochhead. Most of the refugees are heading to Jordan (where Iraqis are now 10 percent of the population) and Syria. Both of those countries are apparently getting a bit crowded these days. The story goes on to quote Kathleen Newland of the Migration Policy Institute about historic American attitudes toward refugees from wars in which the U.S. played key roles:
Despite anti-war sentiment, Newland said, "we have not seen as much of an outpouring of sympathy for the innocent victims of this war from Americans, as we did in the aftermath of that terrible photograph of the little girl on fire with napalm (in Vietnam.) Nothing seems to have quite seized the imagination of the American public about Iraqi civilian victims of war in quite that way. Maybe we're just in the early stages. "
Read the whole dreary tale of displaced people here.