Photo Essay

Iraqi Refugees


Yesterday I discovered some interesting photographs of Iraqi refugees in Amman, Jordan posted on Slate.  They were taken by Anna Husarska a policy adviser with the International Rescue Committee who does a lot of travel, reporting and photographing in the same places I do. Anna blogs, along with others, on Foreign Policy’s AF-PAK Channel, which is a highly wonderful source of updates on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Foreign Policy’s executive editor is the whip smart Susan Glasser, who used to work at the Washington Post when I did.

The IRC estimates there are about 4.2 million refugees from the seven year war in Iraq. Most are called Internally Displaced Persons. This means they’re still in Iraq but have fled their original homes. Syria and Jordan have opened their borders to Iraqis–possibly as many as 1.5 million.

When I was in Jordan and Syria in October I met a number of Iraqi refugees. A key neighborhood for Iraqis is in southern Damascus near the Shia Shrine of Sayidda Zeinab. These were people who were living under less than salubrious circumstances. But I also learned that there were wealthy Iraqis who had fled to Amman and succeeded in being competitive business people. My Jordanian guide, for example, used to run a restaurant in Amman. He said an Iraqi family came and opened what he acknowledged was a better financed bistro in the same neighborhood. It put his restaurant out of business. I also had an interesting encounter with a pair of Iraqis walking in