First Iraqi Refugees Arrive in Germany
8:38 PM, Mar 20, 2009 • By ULF GARTZKE
A first group of 122 Iraqi refugees arrived in Germany on Thursday this week. The government in Berlin -- which will accept a total of 2,500 Iraqi refugees in the coming weeks and months -- will provide all of them with long-term residency papers, language courses, housing, and work permits. The other 26 EU member states combined will accept another 7,500 Iraqi refugees under the terms of a deal arranged by Germany between the European Union and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Due to strong political lobbying by Germany's ruling conservative CDU/CSU parties, the resettlement program is especially targeted at Iraq's religious minorities, which are clearly among the most vulnerable refugees groups:
To be sure, this Iraqi refugee resettlement program is a major first step in the right direction. Ultimately, however, it is just a drop in the ocean as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees (many of them Christians) remain stranded in neighboring countries such as Syria and Jordan under terrible conditions.