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Small Town in Sweden Accepted More Iraqi Refugees than the Entire United States

The United States has admitted less than 5,000 Iraqi refugees between April 2003 through the end of March while Sweden has accepted 34,000 since 2003 according to Congressman Alcee Hastings, chairman of the Helsinki Commission, an independent US government agency led by members of Congress.

The International Herald Tribune writes that the commission held a hearing with Anders Lago, the mayor of Sodertalje, Sweden. He said that his small city of about 80,000 was now home to nearly 6,000 Iraqis. "More refugees than the United States and Canada together."

The IHT also points out that "the Bush administration said Thursday it remained optimistic it would meet its goal of admitting 12,000 Iraqi refugees by the end of September."

Related articles in the Atlantic Community by Jan Bittner: Iraqi Refugees: The West Overlooks a Major Crisis and Iraqi Refugees: Open Western Doors to the Most Vulnerable, referring to the Iraqi Christians in particular.

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Don S on :

Why so many in the same place? Putting 6000 in a city that size is looking for trouble, I think.

franchie on :

it is effectively disproportionated when only 500 christian Iraki will be coming to Paris

Joe Noory on :

Gee, I wonder why the US wouldn't want to cause a permanent diaspora?

John in Michigan, USA on :

Certainly, any Iraqis such as translators or others who were promised US citizenship, a green card, or a visa, in return for services rendered, should get that with a minimum of fuss. The US could do much better in this area, but I think in the end after some bureaucratic delays we will do the right thing with this category of refugee. As to the rest of the refugees, part of the general (not just US) reluctance to admit them is that these refugees typically represent the mobile, professional class that Iraq will need if it is ever to get back on its feet again. I wonder what percentage the "12,000 Iraqi refugees by the end of September" fall into the two categories?

Zyme on :

"As to the rest of the refugees, part of the general (not just US) reluctance to admit them is that these refugees typically represent the mobile, professional class that Iraq will need if it is ever to get back on its feet again." I will cite this one the next time the EU is accused of fighting refugees too harshly! After all, Brussels just wanted to look after those refugees' home countries..

David on :

I just read a news report that the interior minister Schaueble is pressing that Germany admit CHRISTIAN refugees from Iraq. I guess the suffering of nearly 2 million MUSLIM refugees is less worthy of aid.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

There might come a day, when Muslim refugees can savely return to Iraq, but Christian refugees will have to wait much longer or will die before. Jan Bittner (see link in post above) is writing that the Bagdad neighborhood of "al-Dora and many parts of the country have lost their Christian populations, and 2000 years of Christian presence in Iraq is coming to an end." And he is arguing: [quote]"For the Christian refugees, as for other minority groups, there will be no return to Iraq in the foreseeable future. Even if the level of violence is reduced, there is no evidence that a secular society which provides protection for religious minorities will result."[/quote] The Christian Right was very supportive of George Bush and the Iraq war. See what they did to Christianity in the Middle East...

Noory on :

As an American of Arab Christian origin, I had no idea that we Americans or Arabs or Christians were so monolithic and interchangable or uniform in opinion. Much as the majority of the media what to appear to wag their fingers at a population that already understand this to be the case of any other body of people - that thet aren't all interchangable. I wonder if they'll ever extend the same courtesy to the people around them. Then, perhaps, we'll find reason to take analysis of such depth seriously.

Elisabetta on :

Interesting causality there. The only relatively safe Christian populations are in states headed by dictator or a religious oligarchy: Egypt, Syria and Iran. The Palestian Christians are leaving in droves. The Turks already massacred their Christian population. I think you should properly rephrase your non-point as: once liberated from an oppressive socialist regime, certain segments of Iraqi society did what every 'free' Arab society has done and expunged the Christians. Personally I blame the EU countries for supporting the PLO with blank checks all these years. Look at what the muslim Palestians have done to the Christian population of Bethlehem for example. That money disrupted the societal equilibrium and created alien tensions which obviously resulted in a co-ordinated expulsion and expropriation of Christian families' property and livelihoods.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

"once liberated from an oppressive socialist regime, certain segments of Iraqi society did what every 'free' Arab society has done and expunged the Christians." So why did the US "liberate" Iraq? Let's hope the US does not liberate the other countries that you mentioned are still relatively safe for Christian populations. I doubt it is the money that is to blame for the troubles in Bethlehem. Palestine is still a much safer and freer place for Christians than America's favorite petrol stations at the Gulf.

Pat Patterson on :

I'm not to sure I understand the reference in regards to "...petrol stations in the Gulf" as neither the US or even Germany for that matter import more than 12% of their oil from members of the Arab League. Expulsions of Christians from various parts of the Arab world has been steadily increasing since the first Oil Embargo in the 70's. One of the oldest mosques in Cairo announced recently that its numbers have fallen so low that it is no longer had enough members to make a minyan, ten or more members to conduct public prayer services. At least as People of the Book the Christians, though generally considered polytheists, are somewhat tolerated but Buddhists, Hindus and Bahaists are accorded no such kinship and persecuted at will. Witness the bombing in Shiraz aimed at driving out the reamining Bahaists. To say that Christians are less persecuted in Palestine, whatever that is, reminds me of the criminal being offered a blindfold before being shot. A fig leaf of compassion from people who will probably rifle his pockets for the cost of the bullet.

Elisabetta on :

Yes they are safer for the moment but have no legal recourse for ad hominem and generalized sparodic persecution. I am sure they appreciate your wish that they continue to live beleagured and limited existences. I suppose its a crystallization of the Teutonic security vs freedom thought process. I dont think the Palestinian christians are as safe as you think: http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp490.htm. 'Petrol stations' in the Gulf. Try not to be an ass.

joe on :

Well one thing we all don't have to worry about is Germany "liberating" anyone... They got out of that business in I think 1945

Joe Noory on :

That comparison is cretinous. Tell me, what have the French been doing in Chad, the Ivory Coast, or the British in Sieera Leonce, if not doing what you're deriding as liberation? What were the Australians doing in Timor and Ache? Why is the vocabulary so selective, if not to find a way to impugn on culture for the same thing others are doing? Besides, if you ever lived in the countries that are economic vassals of Europe, you'd soon realize that once the domestic production of anything is obliterated and replaced with overprices goods from the likes of Nestle, Knorr, and Danone that they are hostile in a deeply underhanded and enslaving manner that uses the aid of their governments in the form of tarif analogues to impose on emerging economies and take away the opportunities that capitalism offers.

franchie on :

"and replaced with overprices goods from the likes of Nestle, Knorr, and Danone that they are hostile" I did know that the quoted countries had corn or cows, anyway, those products aren't less expensive for US... and they sure aren't a necessecity, Don't know any norther Africans that buy them if they can't afford them. I myself don't buy them either I like your temptation to "diabolise" "US" and or EU

franchie on :

"Personally I blame the EU countries for supporting the PLO with blank checks all these years." yeah, Blame, blame... es ist egal : wasn't Mr Carter projecting a visit in Palestine lately ? "As an American of Arab Christian origin, I had no idea that we Americans or Arabs or Christians were so monolithic and interchangable or uniform in opinion." It is also among the arab population that there is the less acceptation for other arab population : call that wathever, tribal comportment

Joe Noory on :

You're right about Arabs fighting one another. It's the single persistent feature of our history. As for Carter, he's hoping for a legacy and sone self-remediation a la IRA and Unionists... he'll have to discover by himself that they aren't there yet. It took two decades of growing maturity followed by 9 years of backchannel communications about ceasing hostility with London to get the IRA to open up. I don't think it takes very much to see that Hamas ain't there yet. So this isn't about Hamas, it's about Carter's play to the "peace" subculture. Not that Hamas doesn't understand this and knowing that this isn't the US government engaging in public dialogue with them, but it's doiubtful that they will understand it the same way the Carter Center does in even the smallest way. I have no doubt that the CIA is already talking to Hamas on a semi-regular basis. They were the entrpot for communication between the Israelis and the PA in the West Bank, so there are certainly some lines of contact. However, I think the level on which they're speaking on is far more functional and tactical at this point than it is about the future standing of a Palestine because I just don't think that Hamas are up to a level of solidity to do it - either as a entity or in any way that the political factions and population of Gaza is willing to permit them to even if they and their Iran/Hizballah/Syria-linked advisors want them to.

Michelle on :

This is skewed information. Sodertalje is not a "small" city by Swedish standards. Stockholm, the largest city in Sweden with one million people and the largest settlement for immigrants and refugees, is right next door. This makes Sodertalje a veritable suburb of Stockholm, which is where most immigrants settle. Also, 80,000 is not small by Swedish standards. The third largest city, Malmo, is only 200,000 residents. I'm not legitimizing the US's lack of refugee acceptance, but this article is making it seem like something it's not.

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