Our guest blogger is Natalie Ondiak, Research Associate at the Center for American Progress.
During Senator Clinton’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday, the issue of Iraqi refugees was raised in a question by Senator Cardin. Cardin mentioned that five million people have been displaced, many into other countries which “makes it extremely challenging to see a lasting solution in that region”. Senator Clinton’s response included longer-term goals:
One of the challenges of the Iraqi government and, insofar as we are involved, our government, in sort of balancing how we’re going to support the stability of the Iraqi government and help them deal with the repatriation and return, both externally and internally, of Iraqis is a big challenge to the Iraqi government that we’re conscious of.
Before repatriation and return are possible, however, other issues must be addressed. One of these is the question of how to deal with the 30,000 to 100,000 Iraqis who worked with Americans in Iraq and have been targeted as “collaborators” and “traitors” by extremists and militia for their U.S. affiliation. These Iraqis have worked as engineers, translators, office workers, drivers, construction workers for the U.S. government and other American organizations. Many have become refugees or internally displaced persons. and their lives and the lives of their families are in danger. These Iraqis urgently need and deserve America’s help. Yet bureaucratic red tape has until recently meant that refugee processing takes between 6 months and 2 years — far too long when people’s lives are at risk. Read more