Money, security limit U.S. aid to displaced Iraqis

A mother carries her daughter as she waits in line at the entrance to the Iraqi Red Crescent office in Samarra, north of Baghdad.

BOB MOON: There's a sad consequence to the war in Iraq that's gone largely unnoticed, or at least unaddressed, here in the U.S. Millions of Iraqi citizens have fled their homeland to escape the sectarian violence that's gripped the embattled country.

Today, the Bush administration announced it's going to allow a number of Iraqi refugees to settle in the U.S. That number? Seven thousand. A tiny fraction of perhaps several million who might need to find a new place to call home.

Why such a small number? Nancy Marshall Genzer reports there are money and security concerns. And, of course, there's bureaucracy.


NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: Today's State Department announcement that 7,000 refugees can come here seems like a trickle. But assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey

says the refugees need security screenings. And we can't overwhelm the system.

Sauerbrey is working with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to prioritize Iraqi refugees who worked for the U.S. and are now in danger.

ELLEN SAUERBREY: We want to know who they are, and we want to give their names immediately to UNHCR, getting those into the stream for resettlement.

The State Department has asked Congress for $50 million for resettlement. Kristele Younes

of Refugees International says it's not enough.

KRISTELE YOUNES: Eight billion dollars are spent every month on the war in Iraq. There must be a way for this administration to find a few millions to address the needs of the needy.

But Roberta Cohen of the Brookings Institution says it's hard for the Bush administration to up the ante, because that means admitting its Iraq strategy isn't working.

ROBERTA COHEN: That is, things are not going so well. And that there's a humanitarian crisis in the country and 50,000 people are fleeing from their homes every month.

Refugees are already spilling into neighboring countries. Syria is cutting off the flow of refugees by forcing some to leave . . . with no place to go.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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