Afghanistan, Iraq generate the most refugees

Top refugee origins 2006

More refugees are fleeing Afghanistan and Iraq than from any other countries.

America’s wars continue to account for many of the world’s refugees: 4.7 million originate from Iraq and Afghanistan, almost half the world’s total, according to the UNHCR’s annual report.  America also accepts more refugees for permanent settlement than any other country (71,400 in 2010).  Most refugees, however, end up as temporary residents in neighboring countries.  If a conflict or natural disaster is regional, states of origin may also be host states. Hundreds of thousands have fled civil wars in Congo and Sudan, but many seek refuge in both countries too.  Tibetans may flee China, but the People’s Republic hosts more refugees than it produces—mostly accounted for by 300,000 Vietnamese long settled in China.

via The Economist.

Click on Chart of the Day for The Economist’s chart showing the top refugee-producing countries, as reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  Sorry, I wasn’t able to download it directly into this post.   [Hat tip to The Dish for the chart.]

The  reasons for the refugee flight appear to be different in Afghanistan and Iraq.  In Afghanistan, people are mainly fleeing the war itself.  Refugee International, a humanitarian organization, said some refugees are fleeing Afghanistan’s corrupt and out-of-control police forces, but many have been driven from their homes by air strikes and Special Forces raids.

In Iraq, as the war winds down, refugees flee mainly sectarian violence by Sunni and Shiite Muslims.  Many members of Iraq’s centuries-old Christian population, which dates back to before the coming of Islam, have fled.  This is something new.  Saddam Hussein was a cruel tyrant, but he did not single out Christians for persecution.

Bad as the Afghan refugee situation is now, it was even worse during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.  The United States does not have a policy of decimation of the Afghan and Iraqi populations, as Gorbachev’s Red Army did in Afghanistan and the Russian Federation does in Chechnya.   But our government’s method of waging war – blasting villages with flying killer robots where terrorists are thought to be hiding out, or where the people fit a computer-generated algorithm of terrorist – will add up to the same thing if continued long enough.

As an American, I am proud of our country’s willingness to give refuge to refugees. My home city of Rochester, N.Y., is refugee-friendly.  The United States accepts more refugees as permanent residents than any other country.  But this is a tiny number, compared to those stuck in camps in Pakistan, Iran and Syria.

Click on UNHCR 2011 refugee database for details and statistics from the United Nations report in The Guardian in England.

Top refugee-producing countries in 2010, from interactive map in The Guardian.

Click on Number of Afghanistan refugees has doubled for a report from CNN on Aghanistan’s refugee problem.

Click on Responsible U.S. Transition Must Address Displacement Crisis for a report on Afghanistan by Refugees International, an independent humanitarian aid organization.

Click on ‘Religicide’ in Iraq for a report from Christianity Today on Iraq’s Christian refugee problem.

Click on The Waiting Room for a graphic novel describing the plight of Iraqi refugees in Syria.

There are differences in the refugee count in the different articles, presumably because of differences in how different people define refugees and estimate their number.  However, I’m sure the headline of this post is accurate.

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