War in Iraq: An Impending Refugee Crisis? Uncertain Risks, Inadequate Preparation and Coordination
As military and diplomatic plans develop for a US-led attack against Iraq, there has been little public discussion about the possibility of a mass exodus of Iraqi refugees as a consequence of this conflict. Nor has there been any consideration given to the implications of a refugee crisis on the security and stability of Iraq’s immediate neighbors in the Middle East. This is surprising, because for the last decade or more there have been massive cross-border flows of Iraqi refugees to neighboring states, creating regional instability and imposing social and economic strains on host countries. Iraqi nationals have also been among the highest number of asylum seekers in Europe. There is also surprisingly little public discussion of the current state of preparedness for a humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Yet, as past humanitarian crises clearly demonstrate, early planning for the uncertainties of military action, especially a refugee crisis, is essential.