Homeland Insecurity in the US Dividing Refugee Families

by matttbastard

Steve Lannen of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports on the unintended consequences of so-called ‘material support’ provisions contained within the Patriot Act:

Losi Grodya works two jobs, has a driver’s license, is working on a community college degree and is readying to take her U.S. citizenship exam.

Despite all she has accomplished since settling in Lexington as a refugee from her native Democratic Republic of Congo nearly six years ago, she feels helpless when she talks on the phone with her daughters. Their home has been a Rwandan refugee camp for the past four years.

”They ask me when they are coming. Why is it taking so long? They tell me since I am in America, I must be able to do something to get them to come, but I’ve tried everything I can,“ Grodya said. ”I just want them to come here so we can all be together again. … But I can’t even do that.“

Her daughters, who as of late January were approved by U.S. officials to join her in Lexington as refugees, have seen their cases caught up in a post-9/11 provision in the Patriot Act that bars people from entering the United States if suspected of aiding a terrorist group.

[…]

After months of delay, Grodya learned last week that her daughters are suspected of providing material support to a terrorist group. But she doesn’t know precisely what they are suspected of doing.

Grodya’s five daughters have shared stories not of complicity, but of kidnapping and rape in a country torn apart by decadelong conflict, she said. She fears they have not told her the worst, but that what they have said ”is now being turned against them.“

Unfortunately, because it wasn’t published in the New York Times or the Washington Post, the story of Losi Grodya–and the broader issue underlying her plight–likely won’t get the attention it deserves. But hopefully a little blogospheric momentum will help broaden its impact. So, please, read the whole thing, blog about it, pass it along to your friends, your colleagues, and (if you’re one of our American readers) your Congresscritters.

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PSA: The Humanitarian Void in Iraq

by matttbastrard

From Refugees International:

Uprooted and Unstable in Iraq

“We are getting tired,” an Iraqi mother told Refugees International on our recent mission inside Iraq. “We just need a decent house to live in and decent food to live off of…” This woman and her family live rent-free in a house provided by the Sadrist movement after being forced from their home. Refugees International found that Iraqi militias are the main providers of food, clothing, oil and other basic resources to 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis, because the Iraqi government and international community are failing to assist them. Our report, Uprooted and Unstable: Meeting Urgent Humanitarian Needs in Iraq, cautions that if this problem is not addressed, it will have dire consequences for the humanitarian and security situation in Iraq. The report recommends that aid organizations, including the UN, partner with local groups inside Iraq, and discourages refugee returns until more effective aid channels are established.

Also read Five Years Later, A Hidden Crisis, a new report issued by the International Rescue Committee’s Commission on Iraqi Refugees.

Related: via Feminist Peace Network, IRIN press release:

A study published in March by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on the mental state of Iraqis in Jordan and Lebanon has pointed to mounting social and economic problems as the cause of increased domestic violence.

[…]

“Most families prefer to sweep their problems under the carpet because [to them] reputation matters more than anything else,” said Shankul Kader from the Jordanian-Iraqi Brotherhood Society, a non-governmental organisation trying to help the Iraqi community in Jordan.

“The fact that most men are forced to stay at home due to the lack of jobs, and the lack of social interaction among the refugees, has heightened tension in households,” the study said. It revealed that 15 percent of women interviewed in female-only focus groups reported an increase in family violence.

“A well-raised Iraqi woman should tolerate everything in silence… My husband has no other way to get rid of his anger,” one woman told researchers.

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, over half a million Iraqis have moved to Jordan, hoping to return home when things improve.

Most Iraqis in Jordan are middle class, but over the years their savings have run down, and there are few jobs. Only about 22 percent of Iraqi adults in Jordan work; the rest are jobless, according to a recent study by the Norway-based FAFO Institute for Applied International Studies.

A large number of Iraqis rely on financial aid from relatives outside the Middle East, mostly in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden, while others rely on temporary jobs, as immigration rules prevent them from holding permanent jobs.

“Men resort to violence because of social and economic pressures. Iraqis in Jordan are living in constant worry about their future,” Shankul said.

Activists involved in helping Jordanian women survive domestic violence say their doors are open to Iraqi women. Asma Khader, a women’s rights activist and lawyer, said the Jordan Federation for Women is engaged in activities to help abused Iraqi women. “Social barriers remain the biggest challenge in tackling domestic problems,” she told IRIN.

Also see “Terrible things happened to me”: Violence against Iraqi women and girls and Voices of Iraqi Refugee Women and Girls in Jordan, both from the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, which also produced the following video on gender-based violence against Iraqi women and girls in Jordan:

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