Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Refugees in Syria

Official figures show there are about 1 million refugees from Iraq in Syria. Unofficially, if you talk to people here, they reckon it must be nearer 3 million. The consequences can be seen on the street: there are more beggars (there were hardly any two years ago), many with limbs missing; prices of basic foods have shot up - eggs have almost doubled in price in just a few months; the roads are even more crammed with traffic. Property prices have risen too, especially for rented apartments. It can't be easy for Iraqis seeking refuge here. They can enter only on tourist visas and have to go back to the Iraq border every six months to get a fresh visa. But they do find in Syria a society that is tolerant and safe, and which shows none of the resentment towards these disruptive numbers of incomers that one would find, for example in the UK. I read with shame that Britain has granted only a handful of asylum visas to the UK for Iraqi refugees in spite of our responsibility for creating this situation.


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