April 25, 2007:
The UN is faced with a very nasty
situation as it is called on to help deal with the Iraq refugee problem. The
problems are many. Nearly all of the two million refugees are Sunni Arabs.
That's a problem because many of them used to work for Saddam, doing jobs that
will also attract the UN war crimes people eventually. But it gets worse.
During the 1990s, the UN administered an "oil for food" program, to help
alleviate the suffering of the Iraqis people, while the nations oil exports
were restricted by UN sanctions (kept in place by Saddams refusal to comply
with the terms of the 1991 ceasefire). It has since come to light that many UN
officials were bribed by Saddam, to help the Iraqi government get around the
And then there are some of the foreigners that
Saddam was hosting, who are also trying to escape Iraq. Over a thousand
Palestinians have tried to get out of Iraq, but no country will accept them.
Many of the non-Iraqi refugees have criminal (terrorist) records, and don't really
want to go home anyway. But few third countries want to offer sanctuary to
someone with a price on their head.
The UN has managed to dodge all this because they
can, quite reasonably, claim that Iraq is too dangerous for their refugee
experts. That's less the case in most of the country, and the refugee problem
is getting worse as more Sunni Arabs are being driven out of the country. For
the UN, lots of ugly chickens are coming home to roost. It will be interesting
to see how the UN officials try to avoid the nasty side effects.