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I want to go home
CNN and Fox News say Iraqis are happily returning to Baghdad. The cover of the November 20 New York Times had a large photo of a happy wedding party in Baghdad. Inside the newspaper was a photo of smiling adolescents playing foosball, plus a banner headline "Baghdad Exhales As Security Improves."
Author John Ross says this is all a LIE. He says the streets of Baghdad and Mosul remain deadly killing grounds.
Ross says the lies began on November 7th when the Washington Post claimed that Baghdad was now so safe that that over 46,000 refugees had returned in October. The next day, New York Times correspondent Damien Cave wrote, "Iraq families are returning to Baghdad!" Days later, Cave had to admit that it was all lies. Iraqi refugees are living in hovels, or in tents in the desert. Those who “return” to Baghdad only do so to retrieve money, or to seek food or medical care, or to bury a relative.
Bush’s little puppet, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, claimed that in October,1600 families returned to Baghdad every day. In reality, it was 50 or less. Maliki had sent buses to get them, and the refugees took advantage of the free ride to go back to Baghdad for a few hours. Then they left again with all the other refugees that keep streaming out of the city.
Now refugees must sneak into Syria or Jordan or elsewhere. No more are allowed in.
The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) says 4.2 million Iraqis have fled Iraq, which is the largest forced displacement in the Arab world since Jews drove Palestinians out of Palestine in 1948. The Middle East now accounts for half the world's refugees - according to the Swiss-based International Organization on Migration (IOM). Yet the world only cares about places like Darfur, because the refugees there aren’t Arabs. color = red>
About 1.5 million Iraqis have fled to Syria; 750,000 to Jordan; and several hundred thousand more to the Gulf States, and to Arab capitals like Cairo and Beirut. If Israel succeeds in triggering a civil war in Lebanon, then Lebanese people will join the flood of misery.
The most vulnerable are not those who flee to other countries, but those who are internally displaced and are still in Iraq. Herded into ragtag desert camps where violence and disease are epidemic, they face a harsh winter with little resources. Half are children. About 4300 families became so desperate that they were forced to take Maliki's offer of $800 USD to return to Baghdad. As they try to find some place to live in Baghdad, many more people leave the city. A third of the returnees return to find someone else living in their homes. Many Sunnis have lost their homes to Shi’ite families.
Incredibly, the Maliki government has charged former CIA asset and convicted embezzler Ahmad Chalabi with addressing the problem of refugees.
The Iraqis in external exile put pressures on the cities and countries where they seek sanctuary. They exacerbate already debilitated infrastructure and precious resources like water. They drive up housing prices. They drive down wages. They are treated with hostility. Their children are not admitted into school. Work permits are impossible to obtain. Iraqi workers are exploited in the underground job market. Deportation back to Iraq is a constant threat. The refugees live in the shadows, constantly fearing they will be arrested and sent home. Deportation often splits families. Women are left alone to raise children in a strange land.
All refugees everywhere long to go home. They think about it nonstop. They dream about it at night. They fondly remember how things were in the past. They focus on memories of simple things like birds in the trees. They are obsessed with going “home” -- but they can’t when there is no food, no electricity, and nothing but violence and death.
"I want only to go to home," says Meha, a 14 year-old Iraqi girl who now sells pickles on the streets of Amman to make ends meet.
When asked what she would like to say to U.S. teenagers, Meha said America must leave her country. Then she can go home.
Here’s a relevant song from the sixties…