US rejects Iraq refugee criticism

Security clearance cited as reason for delay in resettling Iraqi refugees.

    Critics say Iraqis who have worked with US-led
    forces face daily threats to their lives [AFP/file]

    The US has resettled a total of 692 Iraqi refugees since the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in 2003.
     
    Shifting focus
     
    Speaking to a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East Sauerbrey said the focus in the first three post-Saddam years was to enable Iraqis to return to their homes.
     
    But over the past year she said that policy had shifted to resettlement in the US given the sharp increase in sectarian violence.
     

    "We have left thousands of Iraqis high and dry, desperate and deserted. These people are now in flight because of our own failure"

    Gary Ackerman, US Congress

    "We have acted aggressively to expand our ability to offer more Iraqis refuge in the United States during 2007," she said, but was unable to offer a precise figure on prospective admissions.
     
    Most fleeing Iraqis have taken refuge in Jordan and Syria.
     
    Gary Ackerman, the subcommittee chairman and a Democrat, criticised the administration for moving too slowly saying he planned to introduce legislation for safe resettlement of Iraqis facing possible persecution.
     
    Ackerman said the number of Iraqi refugees resettled in the US was "paltry" compared with the 180,000 Vietnamese the administration had admitted in the first eight months after the Vietnam War ended in 1975.
     
    "We have left thousands of Iraqis high and dry, desperate and deserted," he said. "These people are now in flight because of our own failure."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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