As the administration is asking Congress for an additional $190 billion for the Iraq war, why should we listen to a lone voice? The email I have just received from an Iraqi friend, S, who was working for a U.S. aid agency in Iraq was particularly haunting to me because I met him when I was in Darfur. Here is a man who has been from one catastrophe to another. He had been doing advance logistics in one of the most dangerous parts of Darfur, trying to figure out how to get aid and medicine to stranded survivors of the genocide. He didn't bat an eyelid about his own safety. I didn't go to the areas he was frequenting because they were considered too dangerous for a visiting writer like me. That was over two years ago. Read the email I just received:
Dear Mrs. Jane,
It's been a long time when we met in Darfur - Nyala 2005 !! How are you doing?? Hope life is treating you well.
It is almost two years since I returned from Darfur to Baghdad. At that time, I thought that I was returning home where I can live happily and safely with my family, but I did not know that I would be forced out of the country a year after (June 2006).
I left Iraq last year after the kidnapping and assassination of one of our colleagues at the ***** in Baghdad. The level of danger was unbearable and I do not think I would've made it so far if I stayed over there. Few months after my departure to Jordan, my family (brother and father) got threats and since then they all left to Syria. Those who threatened my family were accusing us of working for the Americans.
Anyhow, I got into the Royal Jordanian Air Academy to get a refresher Avionics course in Jordan. Successfully, I graduated couple of months ago Yet, the Jordanian authorities started to make it so difficult for me to stay in Jordan. They are trying to deport most of the Iraqis in Jordan. As I cannot go back to Iraq fearing for our lives (me and my own family), and I started to think of traveling to the U.S.
I knew that the U.S. department of State is promising to bring 7,000 Iraqis who had worked with Americans or got involved with the U.S. mission in Iraq. I am writing to you today asking if you have any idea of how to make use of this opportunity? Is there any way that I can come to the U.S. under this umbrella? If this does not fit me well, is there any way that I can come to the U.S.
Dear Mrs Jane, this is my story in short. You know that I would not bother you if the situation was bearable, but it seems that I've reached to a blind end. So if there is anything that you can think of or assist with to help me out from this situation (visa, refugee recommendation), then I would be very grateful.
Thanks in advance for your care and time. Hoping to hear from you.
How can I help this man? What is our moral responsibility to Iraqis who have worked for Americans? What is our responsibility to Iraqi humanitarians like S? Jordan should not be blamed for his dilemma, having taken in 700,000 refugees, representing around 10 percent of their population. The delay in bringing any refugees to the USA is deplorable. If only the U.S. would accept one tenth of one percent of our population as refugees that would be a huge improvement. We must do better by the people like my friend S, people who work in places and situations where most of us would not dare to tread.