"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Iraqi Refugees in Syria and Lebanon

I'm reading Eclipse of the Sunnis by Deborah Amos.  She is talking mostly about the Iraqi "surge" -- no, not the American soldiers surging into that country, but the "surge" of Iraqis fleeing their country into neighboring regions. This book tells the story of many people the author met during interviews with Iraqi refugees - millions who have been displaced mostly due to the American invasion and subsequent rising of a more sectarian government and society.  The first few chapters take place in Damascus and surrounding areas. One chapter deals with the women forced to work as prostitutes in order to provide for their children.

That's extremely heartbreaking enough, but then reading this just made me want to throw up my hands in disgust at the hypocrisy and unjustness!

"In another story, I had heard about an Iraqi woman in the sex trade whose clients were young Shiite men from the Mahdi militia who came to Syria in the summer for vacation. They paid her for sex, enjoyed her company, but threatened that if she ever came back to Baghdad they would cut her head off."  (pg. 84)

This is such an interesting book so far, and although it was published just last year, I am already wishing for an update due to how much Syria has changed in 2011.  I am left wondering about all those Iraqi refugees who fled there. Syria was one of the only countries who accepted Iraqis as the Jordanians quickly closed their border.  How have things changed for the refugees now that Syria is in an upheaval? Has it made more of them go back home? Have they joined either cause: those with Assad's regime or those who want more freedom?

In the section about Lebanon the author mentions Palestinians - particularly "young, third-generation refugees [who] had lost hope in liberating Palestine and found a more promising cause in the mujahedeen in Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and then Iraq - all places they had gone to fight."  (pg. 100)

"The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq fanned the long-burning flame, giving the angry young men of Tripoli an outlet for venting their rage. When they came home from the anti-U.S. jihad in Iraq, the Lebanese fighters brought comrades with them and found refuge in Lebanon's Palestinian camps, which remained off-limits to the police and the army.  In this way, the unintended consequences of a generation of exiles that began in 1948 contributed to the ongoing destabilization of the region and the creation of a newly displaced people. It was the perfect example of the cost of doing nothing to solve an earlier refugee crisis: Ignore it for long enough and it will fan the next crisis and seed future ones."  (pg. 102)


Suroor said...

I'm commenting from work so let's see if it works :)

The bit about women prostituting to be able to support their children is heartbreaking :( It made me very very sad :(

Maybe before the American invasion such women were not in these kinds of situations. Maybe life was better for them, really?

Suroor said...

Yay! I was able to post!!!!!!!!!!

Still sad for the women though :(

Susanne said...

Yay, I'm glad it worked! I'd missed your comments and hate that you were not able to post on the other one! How disappointing.

Yes, it's horrible about the women having to use prostitution, but for me it's also horrible that men will use the women yet threaten them if they dare come back home after having been used by them. Such hypocrisy of men annoys me to no end.

Thanks for trying again and I'm glad you succeeded! :)

Anonymous said...

I have read a ton of news articles on the subject and watched videos about the women working in strip clubs around Damascus. It is truly sad, but they provide no help for them. They are left with finding any way possible to survive. Of course, the extremists refuse to consider any of this. There s so much I could say on the subject. While visiting Syria, my husband had an appointment at the UNHCR. I thought it would be like appointments we have here, bt it was so different. I stood outside with him and 500 other Iraqi refugees who were alltold to come the same day. The UN ended up not being able to see everyone (including my husband) and gave them all a new appointment for two months later. This was just to register as a refugee, not even counting trying to come back for aid! He had waited three months just to get that first appointment.

I felt so bad, it fhose people had found out I was a US soldier who had deloyed to Iraq, I could have hardly blamed them for their reaction. Instead, I just kept my mouth shut and waited patiently in the heat with the others so they never even knew I was American (the UN provide no waiting area or protection from the elements while you're sitting outside their building). The entire situation they are in is awful. I'm thankful most of my husband's family has gotten refugee visas to Western countries. They may be split up between the US, Australia, and Sweden, but at least they're safe and can move on with their lives! So many others have not been so lucky. Of course, I could get into the hardships refugees face after arriving into the US, which is nearly as bad, but that is a whole other issue.

Susanne said...

Oh, I would love to hear your stories although they are sad. Thanks for sharing your perspective as one who has been there and seen things with her own eyes! So interesting...and tough. :-/

Yeah, I can see how you would not be overly-popular with that crowd (as a soldier).

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