Ambassador Crocker Reminds Bush Administration of Obligation to Iraqi Refugees


United States Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker is trying to draw more attention to what is an open secret in Washington: America is screwing up the refugee situation in Iraq, big time.

He wrote a sensitive but unclassified memo called “Iraqi Refugee Processing: Can We Speed It Up?” I’m sure the recipients were familiar with these facts:

About 2 million Iraqis are displaced inside Iraq, and an estimated 2.2 million more have fled to Syria, Jordan and other neighboring countries, where they are straining local resources and threatening to destabilize host communities, the United Nations has reported. With 60,000 Iraqis fleeing their homes each month, Jordan largely closed its borders to Iraqis earlier this year, and Syria said yesterday that it will begin requiring visas for Iraqis at the conclusion of Ramadan next month, essentially closing off exit routes from the country.

And they’re probably also aware of this:

Since February, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees has referred about 10,000 Iraqis to the U.S. refugee program. The State Department, however, has admitted just 829 Iraqis this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, and officials caution that they may admit only about 1,750 by the end of the year.

Since 2003, the year of the U.S. invasion, the United States has admitted 1,521 Iraqi refugees.

So Crocker thinks a little public shaming might help remind the United States government of its responsibility to those fleeing the country it wrecked. I wish him the best of luck.

Crocker must be maddening to work with for the rest of the government, by the way. At times he’s a willing shill, at other times he publicly embarrasses his superiors to get results.