Syria filters its Iraqi immigration
Iraqi women wait to board a bus leaving for Syria in Baghdad.
TEXT OF STORY
Doug Krizner: Iraqis have been leaving their country in droves, many moving to neighboring Syria. As many as 5,000 refugees a day. But this flow of immigrants has created economic pressures for Syria.
And beginning today, Syria will have new rules on immigration. Now, only Iraqi businessmen and academics will be allowed to enter. Jeremy Hobson reports.
Jeremy Hobson: There are now more than 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria. The Embassy in Washington says that's costing the Syrian government $2 billion a year.
Iraqi refugees aren't legally allowed to work in Syria. And Kristele Younes with Refugees International says many bring very little with them.
Kristele Younes: People are coming with a suitcase sometimes.
Younes says most Iraqis join the ranks of the urban poor in Damascus, and she says Syria isn't getting enough foreign aid.
Younes: Without robust, increased and long-term international assistance, the Syrians have no other choice but to close their borders.
There are those who say Iraqi refugees are actually helping Syria economically.
A report released last month by the International Monetary Fund found Iraqi refugees are boosting demand for housing and consumer goods and encouraging private investment. But the report notes most of them are living off their savings.
I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.