Survey says 500,000 Iraqis fled fighting in 2007
US is also faulted for refugee policy toward Haitians
WASHINGTON - A half-million Iraqis fled their embattled country in 2007, the third consecutive year more Iraqis were displaced than any other nationality, a survey of the world's refugees reported yesterday.
As before, most went to Syria, and some went to other neighboring countries, the survey by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants said. It said the United States accepted few, just over half the 3,000 it had promised to resettle by the end of September.
The report said the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees had referred 10,000 Iraqis for US resettlement.
It said the Iraqi exodus "from the violence and instability of their homeland" constituted "the largest refugee crisis of 2007."
"While the Bush administration and the United Kingdom are busy trying to win the war, they have provided no leadership toward ensuring the rights and well-being of the victims of this war," the report said.
Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday the survey "shows the United States still has far to go to support the rights of refugees worldwide."
Iraqis were not the only group for which the survey faulted US policies. In its Report Card section, it gave the United States an F, the lowest grade, for returning refugees to their home countries without hearing them out, a practice called refoulement. China, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Libya, and others failed the same category.
"We gave the United States an F in refoulement entirely for its treatment of Haitians," Merrill Smith, editor of the report, said Wednesday.
The survey said the United States interdicted 6,400 foreign nationals at sea in 2007, almost all Cuban or Haitian.
Cubans but not Haitians were told they had the right to seek asylum. Haitians who did not shout their fear of reprisals at home were returned, almost 1,600 in all.