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Direct Aid to Iraqi Refugees

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According to The UN High Commissioner on Refugees, in terms of raw numbers, the nearly two-and-a-half million Iraqi refugees displaced because of the war is a bigger crisis than Darfur . It's also the largest mass migration in the Middle East since the exodus of Palestinians from Israel in 1948.

The vast majority of Iraqi refugees have fled to Syria and Jordan , further straining already overstretched infrastructures in two of the region's poorer countries.  The result is inflated housing costs, scarce water resources and crowded public health facilities and schools. Well over a million Iraqis are internally displaced.

According to The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that as many as a third of externally displaced refugees now outside Iraq is Christian.

Western countries have been extremely hesitant to except Iraqi refugees. The U.S. is one of the biggest culprits, refugee advocates say. After being widely criticized for admitting only a few hundred Iraqi refugees since the war began, the Bush administration promises to increase quotas for Iraqis to a few thousand.

Noah Merrill is a journalist and contributor to the news and analysis website Electronic Iraq and he's reported on conflicts and peace-building efforts in Africa , Europe , Latin America , and the Middle East .

Noah recently returned from a six week stint in Jordan among Iraqi refugees displaced because of the war.

Noah recently returned from six weeks of work in Jordan among Iraqi refugees displaced by the war. During this time there, he conducted dozens of interviews with Iraqi families.

In May, Merrill presented as part of a national speaking tour with the American Friends Service Committee to bring the realities of the Iraqi refugee crisis home to Americans.

In his lectures, Noah addresses the regional economic, environmental, and political implications of the growing refugee crisis.

Originally Broadcast May 9, 2007

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