Follow Up: Iraqi Refugee Problem Escalates Sunni-Sh’ia Conflict in Jordan

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Today, the New York Times reports from Jordan on the Iraqi refugee problem there. (Leigh blogged yesterday about the new reports from Refugees International and Human Rights Watch the Times mentions.)

Refugees International has called the exodus of Iraqis at a rate of some 3,000 a day “the fastest-growing humanitarian crisis in the world.” What’s more, mushrooming Iraqi refugee populations are causing tension in the countries that begrudgingly host them. Whereas Jordan initially turned a blind eye to illegal Iraqis, security forces are increasingly seeking them out and deporting them, and more and more are being turned away at the border.

A few highlights from the Times piece:

— [R]efugees …say the authorities of this officially Sunni country have paid more attention to deporting Iraqi Shiites, fearing that their militias are trying to organize here.

— Many refugees say the crackdown has focused attention on Shiites….Even before this, Shiite prayer halls, known as Husseiniyas, were strictly banned here….A prominent sheik representing Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani of Iraq was deported late this summer.

— “We don’t have a problem with someone trying to advance his Shiite faith,” [a] security official said. “But we do have a problem with someone proselytizing and being political.”

If Sunni-majority countries continue to antagonize the Shiite refugees in their midst, will the Shiites have anywhere to turn but Iran?

— Cameron Scott

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