Refugees: Iraq's Unspoken Crisis

US must rebuild shattered lives now or face decades of disorder: Kristof
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2008 6:56 AM CDT
Iraqi women are seen through the window of a bus bound for Syria in central Baghdad, Iraq. A half-million Iraqis fled their embattled country in 2007, the third consecutive year more Iraqis were displaced...   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof travels to Jordan to report on one of the unintended consequences of the Iraq war: a regional refugee crisis. About 2 million Iraqis, mostly Sunnis, have fled since the war, living mostly in Jordan and Syria in deplorable conditions. "They are the new Palestinians," writes Kristof, "the 21st-century Arab diaspora that threatens the region’s stability."

America has a "moral responsibility" to help Iraqi refugees, but doing so is also in the national interest. As Kristof writes, poor young refugees risk becoming radicalized unless they receive education, food, and basic assistance. The best way to prevent decades of Mideast instability, says the columnist, is not "Blackhawk helicopters, but help with school fees and school construction."