Thursday, November 29, 2007
Refugees Return to Iraq
Mike Nizza reports in the NY Times:
Was it the success of the surge, or the urge to make a living? The motivations of Iraqi refugees returning home from Syria came into focus on Tuesday, when 20 busloads of them set out for Baghdad, though not before a sampling were interviewed by staff members of the United Nations refugee agency:
Some of the refugees heading back to Iraq said they were convinced that it was now safer. “I want to leave because the security situation in Iraq is much better and the atmosphere is less dangerous,” Abu Ali, a refugee from Baghdad, said as he waited to board a bus with his three children.
But many of the refugees said financial considerations, rather than security concerns, were the deciding factor in their decision to return. “The money is finished and my visa has expired,” said Ahmed Hussein from Baghdad’s Sadr City district. “Of course I want to stay here, but I can’t,” he said.
That mixed bag of anecdotes has a much more dramatic bent in light of statistics cited by the agency. About 17 percent of returning Iraqis were in Abu Ali’s camp, voting for the war’s success with their feet, as some have concluded. Most of the rest — about 70 percent of respondents — were voting instead for their wallets, and for a return on their own terms: without visas, they said, the Syrian authorities could have sent them back at any moment. Click here for the full story.