To cite this publication: Patricia Weiss Fagen, “Iraqi Refugees: Seeking Stability in Syria and Jordan,” CIRS Occasional Paper no. 1 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2007, 2009).
Over two million Iraqis are refugees in the Middle East, living in difficult conditions, primarily in Jordan and Syria. Their unresolved plight and their still largely unmet needs constitute a humanitarian crisis. Their presence has had an impact on the two countries where they are concentrated and, by extension, on the region as a whole. Although long hosts to Palestinian refugees, the countries of the Arab Middle East have not been major refugee destinations in recent decades and this report raises questions about the limited regional response to a major refugee flow. At this point, most Iraqis and their hosts hope for a quick and peaceful end to the insecurity that has precipitated the flight, but events in Iraq raise serious doubts that their hopes will soon be fulfilled. Some Iraqis are hoping for resettlement in the United States and other countries of the west, a hope thus far available only to a very few. The report raises questions about the apparently limited ability of the US and other countries to mobilize a major resettlement effort similar to those that took place during the Cold War. More fundamental to the lives of the vast majority of the Iraqi refugees, it calls on the international community to launch a more robust humanitarian response that will assist and protect the Iraqi refugees while addressing the legitimate economic, political and security concerns of Jordan and Syria as hosts to such large numbers of refugees.