Very timely new issue of Middle East Report (244, Fall 2007), on Displacement. The promotional blurb is below. Read and SUBSCRIBE! (Confession: I'm on the editorial committee).
Downplayed in the media, dithered over by the international community and (until recently) ignored by the Bush administration, more than 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes since the US-led invasion of their country in 2003. Even before the Iraqis' flight, the Middle East held the dubious distinction of being one of the foremost generators of refugees -- Palestinians, Sudanese, Somalis and others -- in the world. In the mass uprooting and dispersal of Iraqis, as demonstrated in the fall 2007 issue of Middle East Report, "Displaced," there is much that is sadly familiar.
What is novel about the Iraqi displacement crisis, writes anthropologist Julie Peteet, is the near silence about the displaced, the absence of camps and the belated humanitarian assistance. The crisis magnifies the trend noticeable in the 1990s toward categorizing the displaced as something other than refugees and thereby minimizing the legal obligations of states and international bodies to help them.
Madona Mokbel surveys the plight of Iraqis in neighboring states, where they are denied access to jobs and services, and also face the growing resentment of the native population, who blame them for rising prices and groaning infrastructure. As political scientist Stefanie Nanes finds in Jordan, this blame is misplaced. Given the limited capacity of neighboring states to absorb refugees, the question is why the US and UN have been so slow to respond, argue researchers Kathryn Libal and Scott Harding.
The displacement of Iraqis of course recalls the 1948 expulsion and flight of Palestinians, who continue to live in a harrowing limbo. Muhammad Ali Khalidi and Diane Riskedahl, analyzing the Lebanese army's summer 2007 assault on the Nahr al-Barid refugee camp, conclude that the only thing uniting Lebanese factions is "antipathy for the Palestinians living in their midst." Relief efforts, reports Mayssun Sukarieh, are received with ambivalence by Palestinians who wish their supporters would focus on campaigning for Palestinian rights -- including the right of return. Middle East Report interviews the activists of Zochrot, an Israeli organization working to recover the suppressed memory of the Palestinian displacement in Israel.
Also featured: Stephen Dedalus chronicles another forced migration that has passed almost unnoticed in the West -- the Pakistani military's displacement of perhaps 250,000 people from rebellious Balochistan; Joel Beinin visits settler-besieged al-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills; Laleh Khalili reviews Bernard Rougier's Everyday Jihad; and more.
Subscribe to Middle East Report or order individual copies online at www.merip.org.