Depressing piece in the NY Times:
Despite a stepped-up commitment from the United States to take in Iraqis who are in danger because they worked for the American government and military, very few are signing up to go, resettlement officials say.
The reason, Iraqis say, is that they are not allowed to apply in Iraq, requiring them to make a costly and uncertain journey to countries like Syria or Jordan, where they may be turned away by border officials already overwhelmed by fleeing Iraqis.
The United Nations, which defines a refugee as someone who has fled his or her home country, has submitted more than 9,000 Iraqis to the United States for consideration since the State Department announced a new resettlement program in February.
But only about 5 percent of the applicants are former employees of the American war effort, according to figures provided by the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration, the agencies processing the cases.***
State Department officials said that they might consider being flexible about processing potential refugees in Iraq, but that security concerns have prevented it. There is also the United Nations’ definition of refugee, though the United States is not bound by it.
“It’s an issue that is being looked at constantly,” said Ellen Sauerbrey, an assistant secretary of state, on Tuesday in Jordan, while announcing a $30 million pledge to help educate Iraqi refugees in the region. But, she added, “How do we keep them safe for four and five months in Iraq” during processing? There is also the safety of embassy employees to consider, she said.
For many Iraqis, the travel is no longer possible.
Of course it is reasonable to make people travel to another country to try to flee the country. That makes sense, if you are Joseph Heller.
And what does it say about the overall security situation if we can not even keep those who have actively assisted us safe?
*** Update ***
There are times when James Joyner and I form a sort of blog mind meld, and here is another one (notice the Heller reference in the title). I am reasonably sure this observation will be distressing to James.