The Forgotten Victims of the Iraq War

The untold story of Iraq’s refugee crisis
Written by: Alex Klaushofer, 19 Mar 2008 16:28:00 GMT

Coming back on the train from a news-free holiday earlier this week, idly flicking through the papers abandoned by commuters, I found myself plunged into the tabloid world of Iraq Five Years On.

One paper devoted half a dozen pages to the anniversary. There was extensive reporting of the ongoing discussion about when ‘we’ will withdraw our forces, an ‘I told-you-so’ piece by a vexed defence correspondent about politicians’ failure to listen when it mattered, and a heart-rending account by a childhood friend of a promising young Englishman killed in the battle against Saddam.

Later, I read a report in the Guardian that the army have picked this week to launch a recruitment drive capitalising on the popularity of soldiers in the eyes of the British public.

This kind of coverage in the mainstream media, running alongside a set of preoccupations which include the effectiveness of the “surge” of U.S. troops, the progress of the Iraqi parliament and the fall of sectarian violence, seems to give voice to an underlying desire that western involvement in Iraq – embarrassing as it has been – is in the process of ending.

Yet, as those in the aid world are all too aware, a humanitarian story of gigantesque proportions has been building for some time, with 2 million Iraqi refugees living in empty buildings and makeshift camps in foreign lands, and a further 2.5 million internally displaced within Iraq.

The figures form the basis of an alternative narrative which, in a rare piece about the plight of the refugees in the Sunday Times, Marie Colvin calls “the untold story of Iraq”. With only around 36,000 refugees having returned since the decline in violence, the story of Iraq’s displaced is likely to go on and on, creating a long term crisis which impedes the rebuilding of the country so longingly evoked by western media and politicians.

Read all of it here.

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