Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Iraqi Refugee Crisis



Click on image to enlarge.

Source: National Public Radio (NPR)

Take a look at the percentage of Iraqi refugees granted protection, country-by-country, in Europe and a chart of the number of Iraqi refugees to Europe, year-by-year, since 1990.


During the last few weeks, I received e-mails from friends, readers and strangers enquiring about the same subject, "Immigration, immigration, immigration." So, here's my advice:

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Beggars can't be choosers.

Get a professional writer to write the story accompanying your asylum application.

Be patient and make sure you have enough money to survive the waiting period, which could last from a few months to many years.

Be prepared to feel homesick and lonely in your new country.


Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
The immigration process is like gambling. Immigration officers are definitely unpredictable. Your story may receive different responses from different immigration officers located in different countries. So when possible, apply to as many countries as you can afford. That's how it goes with immigration.


Beggars can't be choosers.
Many people think they have choice about their country of destination. With two million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, Jordan and Turkey, that's definitely not a reasonable option.

No country will ever be like your country, where you had family and friends. And just because you have relatives or friends in America, Canada, Australia or another country, it doesn't mean those people will stand by you when you arrive at their doorsteps. So, why not move to the first country which offers you asylum?


Get a professional writer to write your story for the asylum application.
If you're an asylum seeker, then it's all about the story and how well it's written to convince the immigration officer reading your application.

If your English isn't good, pay a professional writer or a translator to write your story. All Iraqis have horrifying stories to convince an ordinary person. But, remember you're dealing with an immigration officer who had read thousands of stories -- some real and others fake. Your story needs to rise high in a sea of similar miserable stories.


Be patient and make sure you have enough money to survive the waiting period, which could last from few months to few years.
While waiting in limbo (Somewhere in Syria, Jordan or Turkey) accept any decent job that would keep you going until you see light at the end of the tunnel. I believe most of you understand this advice very well.


Be prepared to feel homesick and lonely in your new country.
Being a Middle Easterner, you may end up in a city where the nearest Middle Eastern grocery shop or restaurant is hundreds of miles away from your residence. You may end up in a city where you're the only Iraqi in town. Even, if you find other Iraqis or Middle Easterners in your new town, it doesn't mean you can get along with them.

You may feel pain in your stomach after reading all the above. But, I'd rather prepare you for reality than give you a rosy picture of the immigration process.

Love your new country. It's where you may live to the rest of your life. Make the best of your time to improve your educational and linguistic skills. Don't ever give up on your career and education.

And lastly, never pretend to like something or do things just to please the people around you. Always, always, always be yourself. That's the golden rule to succeed in diaspora.

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