Iraq's Refugees

Excellent report by Cara Buckley for The New York Times that shows just how far from normal the new, less spectacularly violent Iraq is:

The government’s widely publicized plan to run free buses from Damascus, Syria, to Baghdad was suspended after just two runs. Thousands of Sunni refugees get no aid because they fear registering with the Shiite-led government. While aid organizations are distributing emergency packets that include utensils, blankets and food, deeper structural issues, like securing neighborhoods, supplying housing and creating jobs, remain unresolved and largely unaddressed.

A small fraction of the millions of refugees who fled Iraq have come back. While the government trumpeted their return as proof of newfound security, migration experts said most of them were forced back by expired visas and depleted savings. Ms. Hashim, for one, pawned her wedding ring and gold jewelry to stay in Syria, but came back after her uncle’s visa application was denied.

Given that the West -- and especially the USA -- showed little inclination to do anything to help refugees (helping refugees, you see, would be like admitting that Iraq's all screwed up; better to let people suffer in order to keep up appearances) returning home even under these conditions is probably the right move for many families. It's a reminder, though, of the tenuous nature of whatever kind of security has been brought to Iraq. None of the underlying issues have been resolved, so the potential for further breakdown is constantly looking over the horizon.