VIII. The Response of Other Countries to Iraqis Fleeing War and Persecution

Unlike other countries in the region, Jordan has few natural resources. It has no oil and scarce water. Despite this, Jordan has been remarkably open to people from the region fleeing persecution, first Palestinians, now Iraqis. Although Jordan’s historical generosity is now undergoing a severe challenge and its attitude appears to be hardening, it still fares well relative to most of its neighbors as one of the more tolerant countries in the region toward refugees. “The silent treatment” toward de facto Iraqi refugees extends throughout the region and beyond.

The Response of Syria

Jordan is not the only one of Iraq’s neighbors to face the challenge of Iraqis seeking refuge from war and persecution. Syria, in particular, has confronted a comparable number of Iraqis whose circumstances to a large degree correspond to those of Iraqis in Jordan.

In March 2006, UNHCR published a joint study with UNICEF and the World Food Program assessing the situation of Iraqi refugees in Syria. It estimated the number of Iraqi nationals in Syria at 450,000, and said that the large number reflected Syria’s “tolerance and generosity.”265 The report said that Syria was the only country in the region that implemented the temporary protection regime (TPR) without restriction; it now appears, however, that Syria no longer recognizes the TPR. It noted that in 2003 and 2004, Iraqi children in Syria had free access to public hospitals and schools. The report observed, however, a hardening in Syrian attitudes and policies in 2005. In his forward to the report, the UNHCR Representative in Syria wrote:

[T]he past year has witnessed a change in Syria’s policy towards Iraqis. Hence, the TP regime has been replaced by the implementation of increasingly restrictive national immigration rules. Access to public hospitals has also become more restrictive. This has created difficulties for an increasing number of Iraqis, some of whom have started to leave the region seeking asylum elsewhere.266

As in Jordan, UNHCR has registered only a small fraction of the Iraqis living in Syria. UNHCR-Damascus has registered 30,832 Iraqi asylum seekers, as of July 10, 2006, and has recognized only 1,336 as refugees.267

The joint UN report on Iraqis in Syria noted many of the same problems that face Iraqis in Jordan. It found, for example, that Iraqis generally do not have work permits in Syria, and that the majority are unemployed. The report said that “at least 1,500 families are facing very difficult conditions created by a combination of factors, including poverty, expired legal documents and trauma situations. Higher levels of malnutrition, low enrolment levels, child labour and child prostitution are more likely to be higher among these families.”268

The report, based on household surveys, focus group discussions, and other interviews, found that as many as 30 percent of Iraqi children between the ages of six and 11 are not enrolled in school.269

The UN assessment of Iraqi refugees in Syria noted that most Iraqis in Syria have exceeded their visa stays, but that the Syrian authorities have generally tolerated Iraqi overstayers, although some random inspections were noted. The report observed, “Most Iraqi refugees believe that the TP Regime is useless since cases of bribery and coercive deportation were reported despite the submission of the TP letter.”270

The lack of protection afforded by a UNHCR temporary protection letter in Syria parallels the ineffectiveness of UNHCR protection in Jordan:

In reality, the PL [Protection Letter] did not offer the refugees needed protection…. As for issues related to residence permits in Syria, the PL is no longer acknowledged by the Syrian authorities since it is only a Temporary Protection letter and does not guarantee permanent protection…. In fact, the PL stipulates that the holder should abide by the laws and regulations of the country. As soon as the residence permit is expired, the holder is considered in violation of these laws and regulations.271

Human Rights Watch interviewed a former Ba`thist official in Amman who had been deported twice from Syria to Iraq (also quoted above in Former Ba`thists and Their Families). He confirmed that Syrian officials did not honor the UNHCR temporary protection letter. He said:

It was September 12, 2004 when the Mukhabarat [Intelligence] came for me… It was less than one month after I had gone to UNHCR

The Response of Lebanon

An estimated 20,000 Iraqis are living in Lebanon, according to a Danish Refugee Council (DRC) survey of Iraqis in Lebanon, published in July 2005.273 The survey found that the numbers of Iraqis are increasing in Lebanon, particularly among the Christian minority.  

The survey, conducted on behalf of UNHCR, found that Iraqis in Lebanon ranked their “lack of documentation, and the subsequent fear of moving around, of being arrested and deported” as their biggest problem.274 It found 100 percent of the 590 Iraqi households surveyed were living in Lebanon illegally.275 Lebanon makes no allowance for refugees, nor does it provide any other basis for regularizing status.276

Like Jordan, Lebanon is not a party to the Refugee Convention and has no refugee law. Also like Jordan, it hosts a large population of Palestinian refugees, and declines to consider granting asylum to other refugees.277 As in Jordan, UNHCR operates on the margins. The government does not grant residence permits or work authorization to refugees recognized by UNHCR. Lebanon requires advance visas for all Iraqis arriving overland, but will issue a tourist visa for Iraqis arriving with valid passports at the Rafic Hariri International Airport if they are holding $2,000 cash, a hotel booking, and a return ticket.278

Since April 2003, UNHCR has tried to maintain the temporary protection regime in Lebanon, as in Jordan and Syria. Because Lebanon does not recognize the TPR, there is little indication that the TPR has enhanced protection for refugees in Lebanon in any way. At the same time, UNHCR cites the TPR as its reason for not recognizing or processing more refugees for resettlement. Opportunities for third country resettlement have diminished considerably under the TPR.279 Also, UNHCR’s recognition rate for refugees dropped from 35.5 percent for refugees who arrived before 2001 to 18 percent for those who arrived in 2001. In both 2002 and 2003, the recognition rate fell to close to zero.280 UNHCR-Beirut did not recognize a single case in 2004 or 2005.281 As of July 2006, there were 2,173 persons registered as asylum seekers and 568 recognized as refugees in Lebanon.282

The survey showed pervasive fear among the Iraqis in Lebanon, a fear that ironically seemed to increase for those recognized as refugees. “A majority of Iraqis do not feel safe in their country of asylum,” said the report, “whilst those who are recognized as refugees feel even more unsafe than the rest of the population, and are not protected against refoulement.” 283 Some 60 percent of Iraqi respondents (and 76 percent of recognized refugees) rated security in Lebanon as bad or very bad.284 Many Iraqis surveyed in the report said that Lebanese police had arrested and detained them.285 Others cited discrimination in the work place as a problem.286

The DRC found a host of other social, economic, and health problems. Among the most troubling findings is that more than half of the Iraqi households surveyed do not send any of their children to school.287

According to UNHCR-Beirut, “the vast majority” of Iraqis who are detained in Lebanon for illegal entry or stay opt for “voluntary repatriation” as an alternative to prolonged detention, since “no valid options [are] presented to the detainees.”288 UNHCR declines to facilitate such returns. International Organization for Migration officials responsible for Iraq told Human Rights Watch that it has facilitated about 1,000 such “voluntary returns” from Lebanon to Iraq.289 UNHCR said that, to its knowledge, Lebanese authorities returned 517 Iraqi detainees to Iraq in 2005, and 265 in the first six months of 2006.290

The Response of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

Relatively few Iraqis seek asylum in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Neither country is a party to the Refugee Convention, neither has a refugee law, and both maintain strict immigration policies.291 Kuwait has its own unique history with Iraq, having been invaded and occupied by Iraqi forces for seven months in 1990-1991, and having been threatened with Iraqi invasion in 1961 and several times thereafter. After the U.S.-led coalition expelled the Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 1991, Kuwait also expelled large numbers of Iraqi residents, bidun (stateless Arabs) and Palestinians to Iraq, accusing them of having been traitors during the Iraqi occupation.292

In the immediate aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, about 90,000 Iraqis arrived in Saudi Arabia with coalition forces. Within a short time, their numbers decreased to 33,000. Saudi Arabia held them in two closed camps, al-Artiwiya and Rafha under very harsh conditions where the refugees were sometimes severely mistreated.293 The Saudi authorities closed al-Artiwiya in 1992 and consolidated the remaining refugees into one camp, Rafha.294 Over the years, the refugees were either resettled outside the region or repatriated. By the end of 1997, when a resettlement program that had begun in 1992 ended, 24,264 refugees were resettled from Rafha.295 Between 1992 and 1997, another 3,000 Iraqi refugees voluntarily repatriated from Rafha.296 At the start of the 2003 war, there were about 5,200 Iraqi refugees in Rafha.297 A year later, only 483 remained; the rest had voluntarily repatriated.298 As of June 2006, only 137 Iraqi refugees remained in the Rafha camp, after more than 100 Iraqi refugees left the camp to become urban refugees in Saudi Arabia.299 UNHCR has registered no other Iraqi refugees or asylum seekers in Saudi Arabia.300

While no official figures exist for the number of Iraqis currently living in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, estimates in Kuwait range from 10,000 to 13,000, and neither official figures nor credible estimates exist for the number of Iraqis in Saudi Arabia. UNHCR-Kuwait has registered 427 Iraqis as asylum seekers and has recognized 18 Iraqis as refugees. There was no refugee resettlement from Kuwait in 2003, 2004 or 2005, and with the exception of a single refugee resettled from Saudi Arabia in 2003, it did not facilitate the resettlement of any other Iraqi refugees from Saudi Arabia for the same three-year period of the war and its ongoing violent aftermath.301

At the beginning of the war, Kuwait announced that it would not permit Iraqis to enter, but would instead hold them in a 15-kilometer-wide demilitarized strip on the Iraqi side of the border, where it would provide humanitarian assistance.302 Upon the opening of a humanitarian operation center (HOC) in March 2003, former Kuwaiti Chief of Staff Lt. General Ali al-Moman, the nominal chairman of the HOC, advised Iraqis to “stay where they are.”303 At the time, Saudi Arabia deployed 3,000 troops to Kuwait, and the head of Saudi Arabia’s border guard announced that Saudi security forces were using state-of-the art technology to detect people crossing the border.304 In August 2006, Saudi authorities announced their intention to build a sophisticated border fence on its border with Iraq at a cost of up to $7 billion.305

The Response of Iran

Although the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran says that 54,000 Iraqi refugees reside in the country, the only Iraqi refugees who it permitted to re-register in 2001 and 2002 to maintain their refugee status in the country (at which point, it closed further registration) were refugees who had previously registered. This means that the count of officially recognized Iraqi refugees includes none who may have sought asylum in Iran anytime since 2001, which, of course, includes any who might have fled the April 2003 war or its aftermath. UNHCR says that “there are no reliable figures on the number of Iraqis remaining in the country.”306

The Iranian government does not honor UNHCR’s recognition of refugees under its mandate. Although Iran is a party to the Refugee Convention and has established a ministerial-level eligibility committee to determine refugee claims, no information about the Iranian RSD procedure is publicly known.

Before the war, Ahmad Hosseini, Iran’s advisor to the minister and director general of the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants’ Affairs, announced, “In the event of an American attack against Iraq, we will not authorize any Iraqi refugee to enter Iranian territory.”307 Iran did pre-position relief supplies to accommodate potential Iraqi displaced peoples congregating on its western and southwestern borders.308 As the war grew closer, Iran sent out mixed signals indicating that it might open its borders to Iraqis whose “lives…are really in danger.”309 On the eve of the war, the government announced its policy was still a “closed door” for Iraqi refugees, but that it would make exceptions for people whose “lives are on the line.”310 As it turned out, the anticipated flow did not occur, and not a single Iraqi refugee was recorded as having sought asylum in Iran.311 To the contrary, from 2003 through 2005, more than 100,000 Iraqi refugees returned to Iraq from Iran.312

The Response of Turkey

Although Turkey is a party to the Refugee Convention and Protocol, it maintains a geographical limitation that only recognizes refugees of European origin. It has, therefore, never recognized Iraqi refugees on its territory. Nevertheless, Turkey has been a reluctant host to mass influxes of Iraqi refugees. Most notably in spring 1991, in the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War, 450,000 Iraqis, mostly Kurds, fled to its border, at which time Turkey tried to prevent them from entering.313 That episode resulted in the creation of a “safe area” in northern Iraq and the return of those refugees to what became the Kurdish autonomous zone from 1991 to 2003, which today comprises the area controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

As war approached in 2003, UNHCR-Ankara prepared for a large influx of refugees in Turkey and spoke about Turkish plans to set up five camps inside Turkey and 13 camps in northern Iraq to accommodate more than 250,000 anticipated refugees.314 However, press reports of the time quoted Turkish officials about the measures they were taking to prevent a refugee influx. Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan announced on a national television broadcast on the eve of the war that he had made military arrangements with the United States for “a limited belt along the border aimed at stopping a possible influx of refugees…and prevent threats to our security.”315

The expected mass influx did not occur, largely because the Iraqi Kurds in 2003 were no longer in flight. As war and generalized violence continued for the next several years, as well as continuing conflict with Turkish Kurds in the frontier region, Turkey kept a tight grip on its border with Iraq. A UNHCR planning document written in 2003 for the 2004 year noted that “tension and war in Iraq has led to particularly stringent control measures in the immediate border area.”316 Iraqis are not allowed to enter Turkey overland without a visa obtained in advance from a Turkish embassy or consulate abroad, although those arriving by air may obtain a visa at the airport.317

As of June 30, 2006, UNHCR-Ankara had registered 2,404 Iraqis as “asylum seekers” in Turkey, although it was doing no further processing of their cases.318 As with other UNHCR offices in the region, UNHCR-Ankara has placed a freeze on Iraqi refugee status determinations as part of the refugee agency’s regional temporary protection regime. Turkish law does not incorporate the TPR, but the Turkish government has also agreed not to deport Iraqis for the present time.

Human Rights Watch interviewed a European diplomat in Amman who had just returned from Turkey and said that the presence of Iraqi nationals in Turkey is “very limited.” The diplomat said that about 80 percent of UNHCR’s Iraqi caseload in Turkey is made up of Christians. He suggested that there are larger numbers of Iraqi Turkmen (a Turkic ethnic group most prominently found in the area of Kirkuk) who “don’t have any problems and have integrated into Turkey.”319

Another 108 UNHCR-recognized Iraqi refugees reside in Turkey, most of whom were recognized as refugees before April 2003, and have not found a third country willing to resettle them. More than 1,000 Iranian refugees who crossed into Turkey from northern Iraq are also living in the country.320 The Turkish government requires UNHCR-registered asylum seekers and refugees to reside in “satellite cities” in central Anatolia. This is quite isolating, particularly for Christians and other religious minorities, who often move to Istanbul. By circumventing the government’s residency requirements, these Iraqis put themselves in an irregular situation with the authorities. Very few of the refugees and asylum seekers meet the government’s strict language and skills requirements to receive work permits, and UNHCR’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance for them is limited. UNHCR’s operational plan for 2006 said, “With no possibility for safe return to Iraq, little prospect for resettlement and only temporary asylum in Turkey, the Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers and Iranian refugees ex-Iraq are effectively stranded. They are growing increasingly frustrated and ever more dependent on UNHCR.”321

The Response of Yemen and Egypt

Although neither Yemen nor Egypt share a border with Iraq, both have been host to large numbers of Iraqi nationals who appear to have left Iraq for the same reasons as Iraqis in Jordan and other bordering countries. As with Iraq’s other neighbors, Yemen and Egypt, at best, ignore the presence of Iraqis. In fact, reliable estimates of their numbers are particularly hard to find.

UNHCR estimated that 100,000 Iraqis were living in Yemen in 2004,322 but declined to estimate the numbers in 2006, saying that because there has been active movement of Iraqis in and out of Yemen, “it is extremely difficult to estimate their current numbers.”323 As elsewhere in the region, the number approaching UNHCR for registration is relatively small. UNHCR has registered 1,126 Iraqis, but treats them according to the temporary protection scheme, and is not screening Iraqis for refugee status or processing them for resettlement.324

Although Yemen did admit Iraqis without an advance visa in 2003, Yemen changed this policy in 2004 and imposed a visa requirement on Iraqi nationals, purportedly as an anti-trafficking-in-women measure.325

Human Rights Watch was not able to find reliable estimates of the number of Iraqi nationals living in Egypt, but their numbers appear to be rising. Sources in Egypt who did not want to be identified told Human Rights Watch that the likely range was 30,000 to 40,000. In July 2006, the chief of mission for IOM in Iraq said, “We don’t have exact figures, but we see in Jordan, Syria, and now even in Egypt and neighboring countries, where the numbers of Iraqis again slowly and steadily keep increasing.”326 The number of Iraqis registered with UNHCR-Cairo rose from 57 at the end of 2002 to 955 after the first six months of 2006. As of July 8, 2006, UNHCR had registered 1,012 Iraqis for temporary protection in Egypt. Another 77 Iraqis were recognized refugees, overwhelmingly persons whose cases were decided before April 2003.327 Iraqis who UNHCR-Cairo registers for temporary protection are issued three-month, renewable residency permits.328

The Response of the United States, United Kingdom and Other Resettlement and Donor Countries outside the Region

Donor and resettlement governments outside the region largely ignore the Iraqi refugee problem in Jordan (and Syria and Lebanon). The United States and the United Kingdom have taken little note of the presence of Iraqi refugees in Jordan and minimal action to promote temporary asylum in Jordan. Yet, those two states are the most heavily committed militarily in Iraq and bear a responsibility to acknowledge—and to respond to—the human consequences in neighboring states of Iraq’s current upheaval.

Since the start of the war in 2003, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden and Canada have modestly helped to relieve Jordan of some of its burden by resettling what still are small numbers of refugees from Jordan.329 The United States suspended admission of Iraqi refugees from the time of the September 11, 2001, attacks until April 13, 2005, when it announced that it would normalize processing of Iraqi resettlement cases.330 Despite the formal resumption of Iraqi refugee processing, only two Iraqi cases (12 persons) referred by UNHCR departed for the United States in 2005.331 The United States admitted another six Iraqis on family reunification grounds without a UNHCR referral in 2005.332 In 2006, the U.S. State Department admitted 43 Iraqis refugees from Jordan.333 From the beginning of the war in April 2003 through May 2006, UNHCR referred no Iraqi refugee cases for resettlement in the United Kingdom. Six Iraqi family reunification cases departed from Jordan to the United Kingdom without a UNHCR referral.334  

Although the United States is a major donor to Jordan, a relatively small portion of its Jordan foreign aid package is devoted to refugees. The United Kingdom and other European donors appear to have paid less attention to refugee needs in Jordan.  Although the U.S. government’s bilateral foreign aid to Jordan has averaged US$736 million per year since fiscal year 2003,335 it only earmarked US$447,845 in 2005 for Iraqi refugees in Jordan in its multilateral donation to UNHCR.336 In 2006, the United States did contribute US$1.4 million for ICMC’s humanitarian assistance projects in Jordan, including outreach to refugees.337 Neither the United Kingdom nor the European Commission earmarked any funding for Iraqi refugees in Jordan in their 2005 contributions to UNHCR.338 But donor governments rarely give money without being asked. As long as Jordan chooses not to ask, the international community is not likely to answer.

Similarly, many member states of the European Union have not admitted any (or only a token number of) Iraqi refugees from the region. If only in their own self interest in providing meaningful assistance and protection in the region so that Iraqis do not migrate irregularly to Europe in order to seek asylum there, ECHO and European donor countries should also provide Jordan and other countries that provide temporary protection to Iraqi refugees, such as Syria, with generous assistance. The observation of the UNHCR Representative in Syria about Iraqis moving irregularly from Syria to Europe would apply equally to the situation of Iraqis in Jordan:

[H]undreds of thousands of Iraqis are no longer interested in an eventual return to Iraq. Consequently, a huge secondary movement of Iraqis may take place from Syria towards Western countries and particularly Europe, being the closest and traditional region to which Iraqis have fled since the 1991 war. This is a tremendous challenge which needs urgent attention, proper planning and action from the international community in order to avoid a new exodus.339

The number of Iraqi asylum applications lodged in Europe rose by 26 percent from 2004 to 2005.340 In 2005, Iraqis represented the third largest group of asylum seekers in Europe, trailing only asylum seekers from Serbia and Montenegro and Russia.341 The European countries with the largest number of newly filed Iraqi asylum claims in 2005 were Sweden (2,330), Germany (1,895), the Netherlands (1,620), the United Kingdom (1,605), Greece (971), and Belgium (903).342

The United States and the United Kingdom have a particular responsibility to support Jordan. Not only do both countries have historical ties to Jordan and a foreign policy interest in ensuring that Jordan is not destabilized by the large number of Iraqi nationals living in the country unsupported and without legal status, but they also have a moral imperative to support civilians who have fled dangerous conditions precipitated in large part by the U.S.-led war effort or who fled Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1990s but have been unable to return because of dangerous conditions. The United States and the United Kingdom should provide quick and meaningful support to Jordan, both financial and technical, but they should also share the responsibility for providing protection and durable solutions for Iraqi refugees.

Both the United States and the United Kingdom should institute significant refugee resettlement programs for Iraqi refugees in need of resettlement, including persecuted religious minorities, members of ethnically mixed families, and people persecuted or threatened with persecution on account of their association with the United States or the United Kingdom or with private American and British organizations. The United States, on a humanitarian basis (based on past-persecution claims), should admit Iraqi refugees recognized by UNHCR in Jordan during the Saddam Hussein era who were not resettled as a result of the U.S. moratorium on resettlement of Iraqi refugees after September 11, 2001, and who have been living in limbo since that time.343 Aside from humanitarian reasons for resettling this relatively small group, the stuck “old caseload” has blocked the refugee-processing pipeline, and has been one of the reasons the United States has been slow to begin processing “new caseload” refugees.

In addition to helping to relieve Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and potentially other countries in the region of the refugee burden through resettlement, financial support is critical to maintain health and education standards for the refugees, as well as needs for particularly vulnerable Iraqis, such as female-headed households, the elderly, torture survivors, the disabled, and unaccompanied minors. While some governments have contributed bilaterally and through particular NGOs, such as the U.S. contribution to ICMC and ECHO’s contribution to CARE, most funding is channeled through UNHCR’s Global Appeal, based on standing formulas whereby certain governments agree to contribute particular percentages of the appeal.344

UNHCR in practice bases its operating budget less on the actual needs on the ground, rather than on anticipated contributions. UNHCR’s operations in Jordan have been funded during the past three years through its supplementary budget, a budget mechanism that allows UNHCR to devote additional resources to emergency situations. However, UNHCR’s Executive Committee has set a three-year limit on supplementary budget funding before an office’s operations must revert to the general budget process. This means that the Iraq and Jordan operations at risk of reverting to pre-2003 funding levels. UNHCR has put a no-growth cap on its general budget, which would mean that UNHCR’s budget for Jordan could, in effect, be cut by one-third. At its 2006 Executive Committee meeting at which the High Commissioner announced a nine percent decrease in its general budget for 2007, UNHCR’s 2007 budget proposal said that it continued to anticipate supplementary funding for its Iraq Operation, but did not give a funding figure. It reported that supplementary funding for the Iraq Operation decreased from 32 million in 2005 to 28 million in 2006.345

The budgets of UNHCR’s NGO implementing partners, such as CARE and MIZAN,346 who provide essential services to Iraqi refugees, could take deep cuts. Also, since most of the locally hired UNHCR staff in Jordan and the entire UNHCR staff for al-Ruwaishid camp are funded through the supplementary budget,347 a reversion to the general budget process would result in deep cuts in critical aspects of UNHCR’s core operations in Jordan. What funding is available appears destined for programs inside Iraq, based, in part, on a faulty assumption that refugee repatriation to Iraq will be a viable option.

It is essential that donor governments working through UNHCR’s Executive Committee recognize the nature of the refugee emergency in Jordan and elsewhere in the region. Whether or not Jordan maintains its “silent treatment,” these governments need to recognize that there is an ever-changing, and growing, emergency in the region involving refugees who have fled Iraq and that the numbers and the needs are substantially greater than has heretofore been acknowledged. Recognizing the nature and scope of the problem is the first and essential step in addressing and resolving it.   

265 Abdelhamid El Ouali, UNHCR Representative, Damascus, in the Forward to UNHCR, UNICEF, and WFP, “Assessment on the Situation of Iraqi Refugees in Syria,” March 2006, p. 4. UNHCR-Damascus made the same 450,000 estimate in an email to Human Rights Watch, July 7, 2006.

266 Ibid. at 4.

267 Email from UNHCR-Damascus to Human Rights Watch, July 10, 2006.

268 UNHCR, UNICEF, and WFP, “Assessment on the Situation of Iraqi Refugees in Syria,”p. 9.

269 Ibid.

270 Ibid. p. 17.

271 Ibid. p. 20.

273 Danish Refugee Council, Iraqi Population in Lebanon: Survey Report, Beirut, July 2005.

274 Ibid. p. 6.

275 Ibid. p. 30.

276 Ibid. p. 52.

277 Ibid. p. 7.

278 Embassy of Lebanon document accessed through (accessed July 20, 2006).

279 UNHCR resettled 330 Iraqis from Lebanon in 2003, 256 in 2004, and 307 in 2005. Australia took 60 percent of the refugees during that three-year period. The United States resettled 21 percent. During the three-year period, the United Kingdom admitted three Iraqi refugees referred by UNHCR in Lebanon. Email from UNHCR-Beirut to Human Rights Watch, June 30, 2006.

280 DRC and UNHCR, Iraqi Population Survey Report, p. 32. UNHCR-Beirut recognized one case in 2002 and in 2003.

281 Ibid.

282 Email from UNHCR-Beirut to Human Rights Watch, June 30, 2006. UNHCR said that the number of recognized refugees would likely drop in a few days by about 100 because of resettlement departures.

283 DRC and UNHCR, Iraqi Population Survey Report, p. 6.

284 Ibid. p. 36.

285 Ibid. p. 35.

286 Ibid.

287 Ibid. p. 40.

288 Email from UNHCR-Beirut to Human Rights Watch, June 30, 2006.

289 Human Rights Watch interview with Rafiq A. Tschannen, chief of mission-Iraq, and staff, International Organization for Migration, Amman, April 25, 2006.

290 Email from UNHCR-Beirut to Human Rights Watch, June 30, 2006.

291 See Human Rights Watch, Iraqi Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Displaced Persons Current Conditions and Concerns in the Event of War, February 2003, See also Human Rights Watch, Bad Dreams: Exploitation and Abuse of Migrant Workers in Saudi Arabia, July 2004; Promises Betrayed: Denial of Rights of Bidun, Women, and Freedom of Expression, October 2000; The Bedoons of Kuwait: “Citizens without Citizenship,” August 1995; and A Victory Turned Sour: Human Rights in Kuwait since Liberation,” September 1991.

292 Following the 1991 Gulf War, Kuwait revoked all temporary residence permits for non-citizens, and government and vigilante groups commenced rounding up and expelling large numbers. By the end of 1992, Kuwait reduced the bidun population from about 250,000 to about 100,000, and the Palestinian population from 320,000 to about 20,000. U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, World Refugee Survey 1993, pp. 105-106.

293 Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia: Unwelcome “Guests”: The Plight of Iraqi Refugees, MDE 23/001/1994, May 10, 1994. Available at: (accessed July 6, 2006).

294 U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, World Refugee Survey 2002, pp. 182-183.

295 Bill Frelick, “U.S. Resettlement Program for Iraqi Refugees in Saudi Arabia Closes Down,” Refugee Reports, vol. 19, no. 1, January 31, 1998, p. 2. The United States admitted 12,209, Iran 2,645, Sweden 2,208, and Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, and Denmark also resettled significant numbers.

296 Ibid. p. 4.

297 UNHCR, “Iraqis Prepare to Leave Remote Desert Camp,” July 28, 2003. Available at: (accessed July 31, 2006).

298 UNHCR, “Impoverished Southern Iraq Wrestles with Significant Refugee Returns,” March 9, 2004. Available at: (accessed July 31, 2006).

299 Email from UNHCR-Riyadh to Human Rights Watch, July 2, 2006.

300 Ibid.

301 Ibid. and email from UNHCR-Kuwait to Human Rights Watch, July 2, 2006.

302 Diana Elias, “Kuwait Says It will Help Iraqi Refugees, but on Iraqi Soil,” Associated Press, March 10, 2003.

303 Ibid.

304 “Saudi Takes Precautions to Prevent Influx of Iraqi Refugees in Case of War,” Associated Press, March 5, 2003.

305 “The Great Wall of Arabia,” Time Magazine, August 28, 2006. Available at:,8816,1376210,00.html (accessed September 18, 2006).

306 UNHCR, Global Appeal 2006, p. 250. Available at: (accessed October 17, 2006).

307 “Iraqi Refugees Not Welcome on Iranian Soil: Interior Ministry,” Agence France-Presse, September 10, 2002.

308 At the outbreak of the war, Iran had prepared three camps inside its territory, but did not publicize their existence. It said it would move those camps into Iraq or the no man’s land between border checkpoints, but UNHCR and others persuaded it not to do so.

309 “Iran Prepares for 200,000 Refugees from Iraq in 10 Camps,” Agence France-Presse, January 26, 2003.

310 “Iran Ready to Assist Refugees of Probably U.S. War, Says UN Official,” BBC, March 7, 2003.

311 UNHCR, Global Report 2003, p. 326.

312 “Over Half of Iraqi Refugees in Iran Have Gone Home, Says UNHCR,” UNHCR News Stories, December 16, 2004.

313 Bill Frelick, "The False Promise of Operation Provide Comfort: Protecting Refugees or Protecting State Power?" Middle East Report, May-June 1992. Hard copy available through

314 See, Gil Loescher and Arthur Helton, “Turkey Prepares for a Refugee Influx from Iraq,”, March 11, 2003. Available at: (accessed July 5, 2006).

315 Jean-Claude Chapon, “UN Refugee Agency Steps Up Preparations on Border with Iraq,” Agence France Presse, March 24, 2003. Available at: (accessed July 5, 2006).

316 UNHCR, Country Operations Plan, Turkey, Planning Year 2004, p. 1 (on file with Human Rights Watch).

317 Email from UNHCR-Ankara to Human Rights Watch, July 20, 2006.

318 Email from UNHCR-Ankara to Human Rights Watch, July 20, 2006.

319 Human Rights Watch interview with diplomat, Amman, May 3, 2006.

320 UNHCR, Country Operations Plan, Turkey, Planning Year 2006.

321 Ibid.

322 UNHCR, Country Operations Plan, Yemen, Planning Year 2004, p. 2 (on file with Human Rights Watch).

323 Email from UNHCR-Sana’a to Human Rights Watch, July 16, 2006.

324 Of the 1,126 total, UNHCR has recognized 277 as refugees, but they were all recognized prior to April 2003. No Iraqi refugees were resettled from Yemen in 2003, 2004, or 2005. Three Iraqis were resettled to the Netherlands in 2004. Email from UNHCR-Yemen to Human Rights Watch, July 16, 2006.

325 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, Yemen, Country Report on Human Rights Practices, March 8, 2006, sec. 5, p. 17. Available at: (accessed July 14, 2006).

326 Rafiq Tschannen, IOM chief of mission, Iraq, cited by Reuters, “Iraqi Exodus Accelerates with Rising Violence,” July 6, 2006.

327 Email from UNHCR-Cairo to Human Rights Watch, July 20, 2006. See also, “Thousands of Iraqis Fleeing the Country,” Associated Press, April 21, 2006. Available at: (accessed July 17, 2006).

328 Email from UNHCR-Cairo to Human Rights Watch, July 20, 2006.

329 UNHCR facilitated the resettlement of 436 refugees in 2005, which included 158 “Iraqis,” although the Iraqi subtotal also included Palestinians who fled from Iraq, and 191 Iranians (mostly Kurds). UNHCR did not provide a breakdown by nationality or country of destination, other than to say that Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States were the principal resettlement countries. It reported the following countries resettling Iranian Kurds and Palestinians from al-Ruwaishid (no Iraqis) in 2005: Ireland: 46 Iranian Kurds; United Kingdom: 25 Iranian Kurds; New Zealand: 119 Iranian Kurds and 25 Palestinians. In 2004, UNHCR facilitated the resettlement of 409 Iranian Kurds from al-Ruwaishid, including 387 to Sweden and 22 to Ireland. At the time of the Human Right Watch mission to Jordan, Canada, Sweden, and Ireland were in the process of choosing al-Ruwaishid refugees for resettlement. “Iraqis in Jordan,” email attachment from UNHCR-Amman to Human Rights Watch, February 2, 2006, and email from UNHCR-Amman to Human Rights Watch, May 24, 2006.

330 Terry Rusch (director, Office of Admissions, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, U.S. Department of State), Program Announcement 2005-7: “USG Policy on Resettlement of Iraqi Refugees,” April 13, 2005. On file with Human Rights Watch. See also, Refugee Reports, vol. 23, no. 9, December 31, 2002, pp. 4-5.

331 Email from UNHCR-Amman to Human Rights Watch, May 29, 2006.

332 Ibid.

333 Email from U.S. State Department to Human Rights Watch, October 24, 2006.

334 Ibid.

335 Jeremy M. Sharp, “U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY 2007 Request,” CRS Report to Congress, Congressional Research Service, updated March 24, 2006, at CRS-14. Available at (accessed October 19, 2006).

336 UNHCR, Global Report 2005, p. 52. The United States provides funding support to the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) program for extremely vulnerable individuals in Jordan, which provides a safety net for many who otherwise would not be able to afford health care.

337 Telephone calls from Jay Zimmerman, U.S. State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, to Human Rights Watch, July 19, 2006 and July 24, 2006. In 2006, the United States also contributed $1.1 million for ICMC’s humanitarian work in Syria and $772, 399 for its work in Lebanon. It has contributed about the same amount to ICMC for its work in Jordan in each of the past five years.

338 UNHCR, Global Report 2005, p. 51. The European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), the humanitarian arm of the European Community, provides funding for CARE’s work with refugees in Jordan.

339 El Ouali in UNHCR, UNICEF, and WFP, “Assessment on the Situation of Iraqi Refugees in Syria,” March 2006, p. 5.

340 This represents 31 European countries that provided data to UNHCR, including 24 countries of the European Union (France did not report complete statistics). UNHCR, Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries 2005, March 17, 2006.

341 Although the numbers from Serbia/Montenegro and Russia were larger, both countries showed a decrease in asylum applications lodged in Europe from 2004 to 2005 (in Russia’s case, a 31 percent decrease), while Iraqis were increasing by 26 percent during the same period. Iraq’s ranking rose from eighth to third largest number of new applications in Europe from 2004 to 2005. Ibid.

342 Ibid.An NGO service provider in Amman pointed out another impact in Jordan of the increase in Iraqi asylum seekers in Europe: more single women headed households among de facto refugees in Jordan, because the male breadwinners are more likely to travel alone to Europe in the hopes of finding work in order to send remittances back to their wives and children in Jordan. Human Rights Watch interview with NGO service provider, Amman, April 26, 2006.

343 U.S. refugee processing of Iraqi refugees was frozen on September 11, 2001, and remained frozen until April 13, 2005, when the State Department announced that normal processing would resume. However, Iraqi refugee processing to the United States in the ten years prior to the 9/11/01 attacks averaged 2,800 per year. Refugee Reports, vol. 25, no. 9, December 31, 2004, pp. 10-11. Since the resumption of Iraqi refugee processing, however, the United States admitted only 198 Iraqi refugees (from all countries) in Fiscal Year 2005. Refugee Reports, vol. 27, no. 1, February 2006, pp. 16-17. The recommendation that the United States resettle Iraqi refugees who suffered past persecution “on a humanitarian basis” derives from 1) the inclusion of “persecution” in the U.S. refugee definition, in addition to the international refugee definition of a “well-founded fear of being persecuted,” 2) a U.S. federal regulation establishing “humanitarian asylum” based on past persecution claims, 8 C.F.R. § 208.13(b)(1)(ii), and 3) the specification in U.S. law that overseas refugee resettlement is based on refugees of “special humanitarian concern” to the United States.

344 For example, the United States contributes 25 to 35 percent of the total appeal for the Middle East. Phone conversation between State Department official and Human Rights Watch, July 24, 2006.

345 UNHCR, “UNHCR’s Annual Programme Budget 2007,” UN Doc. A/AC.96/1026, September 1, 2006 (on file with Human Rights Watch).

346 MIZAN, the Law Group for Human Rights, provides legal counseling. CARE provides material assistance.

347 Email from UNHCR-Amman to Human Rights Watch, May 24, 2006.