Iraqi refugees: war at home, no where to go

By Christine Graf
April 17, 2008

On September 11, 2001 the United States stood still. America lost 2,998 casualties that day and a whole nation wept for the loss of these innocent lives.

March 20, 2003, President Bush launched the invasion of Iraq. Since then, tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and more than 4 million have had to flee their homes.

America had a taste of the chaos, confusion and uncertainty of a future when both the Twin Towers were struck and crumbled to the ground. The attacks lasted a matter of minutes but of course the aftermath lingered for months. The Iraq war, on the other hand, just reached its fifth year anniversary.

Five years the United States has been at war in the Middle East. Therefore, for five years the innocent civilians of Iraq have been living in limbo uncertain of what will happen from hour to hour, day-to-day.

The uncertainty has caused many Iraqi civilians to flee their homes in fear of their lives. What some Americans don’t realize is the seriousness of this situation. Iraqis are targeted because of religious affiliation, economic status and their profession. These are middle class citizens – professors, doctors, hairdressers and so forth – forced out of their homeland by armed conflict that threatens and kills.

The education system in Iraq that was once prestigious is now non-existent.

Could you imagine getting everything you ever worked for taken from you in a matter of seconds? More importantly could you imagine being in a situation where you were actually scared enough to drop everything and leave with only yourself and your family? These civilians are now refugees hiding in countries illegally because anywhere is better than where they came from.

Now think about how you felt on 9/11. The nation opened their hearts and grieved for all 2,998 victims of that attack. We grieved because we saw ourselves in those people. We saw each victim as a mother, a father, a wife, a husband, a friend and so on. It could have happened that day to anyone traveling on a plane, in a New York City building or in any building for that matter.

Pain, suffering and fear are the same no matter what nationality, race, religion or homeland you are from. There is damage being done to people who do not deserve it and it is up to us to lend a hand.

We first need to learn about the situation, and then advocate to authorities for change. Just in Lebanon, there are 50,000 Iraqi refugees living in a country about the size of Connecticut. The United States has taken in a mere 4,135 total Iraqi refugees since the 2007 fiscal year to March 2008. At the end of the Vietnam war we were able to take in 150,000 Vietnamese each year. Why so few Iraqis?

Let’s be serious here, Iraq is unlivable for the 2 million Iraqi citizens who have left the country and the 2 million that have been displaced from their homes within the country. The most powerful nation in the world sheltered only 4,135 civilians from the violence, 4,135. The statistics are in and America needs to step up.

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Christine Graf

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