Video: Iraq coping with in-country refugee crisis

By Chief foreign affairs correspondent
NBC News
updated 3/21/2007 8:01:32 PM ET 2007-03-22T00:01:32

A new investigation obtained by NBC News says there is another humanitarian crisis in Iraq — displaced people inside the country — and gives the United States and United Nations failing grades for helping them with their most basic needs.

Ali Ghazi and his family got out of their old Baghdad neighborhood just in time. Shiites, they were warned by a Sunni friend that Sunni militants planned to murder them by morning. They grabbed everything they could carry and ran.

"The future is dark, not only for my children, it is for the next generation if the situation stays the same," Ghazi says.

Now they are among 1.9 million Iraqis displaced in their own land — in effect, by ethnic cleansing.

"Iraqis are left without resources for health care, without resources for education and this is a disaster," says Kristelle Younes, an investigator with Refugees International.

The investigation by Refugees International obtained by NBC News says the U.N. expects 1 million more Iraqis to be displaced this year within Iraq. But the new report says the United States and the U.N. have until now all but ignored the problem, saying, "Washington and the U.N. do not acknowledge the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis."

"These people desperately need help, and they frankly aren't getting it from their own government in Iraq or from the U.S. or from the U.N. at this stage," says Ken Bacon with Refugees International.

This on top of an exodus of 2 million Iraqis who've already fled their country because of the civil war, threatening to overwhelm neighboring Jordan and Syria.

More than 18,000 are now seeking asylum in Europe — half in Sweden. But how many has the United States accepted? In all of 2006, only 202.

Why has the United States closed its borders to Iraqis when critics say the crisis began with a U.S.-led invasion? The administration blames it on restrictions on immigration from the Middle East imposed after Sept. 11, 2001.

On Wednesday, the administration promised to take in more refugees from Iraq and help others, like the Ghazis, find a way to remain in their homeland.

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