One of today’s NYT’s headlines
. . . For Iraqi Girls, Changing Land Narrows Lives made me wonder, just how safe did these girls think they were under Saddam, with Uday and Qusay around? But more to the point, just at the moment I was looking at the paper, I had just watched the last minutes of Elinor Burkett‘s lecture on CSPAN urging American “conservative women” to apply for money that would start a women’s studies department in Baghdad University. As Ms Burkett pointed out, every time fundamentalists take over a society, they start by diminishing women’s status to nothing — the difficult thing is empowering those women again. No question that I raq is in turnmoil and it is a dangerous place; using teen girls as illustration of the danger is almost trivializing the issue.
(An aside: I use the term “conservative women” in quotes since I’ve met some very radical “conservative women” as of late. But I’ll blog on that some other time.)
Still on the subject of Iraq, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees June 15 report on GLobal Refugee Trends (via the Barcepundit) just came out. The NYT’s not writing about the results of the study, for that you have to look at an Australian newspaper
But perhaps the most telling sign is what you could call the “refugee indicator” of success. Last week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, reported that the number of refugees worldwide had dropped to its lowest level in a decade, falling by 18 per cent to just over 17 million.
From the first quarter of last year to the first quarter this year, there was a 25 per cent drop in the number of people seeking political asylum in the developed nations, The Boston Globe reported. That’s mostly because people are now less likely to flee Afghanistan and Iraq.
The UNHCR also found 81 per cent fewer Iraqis claimed asylum this year than last year, and is now preparing for the return of more than half a million Iraqis. “Nearly 5 million people … over the past few years have been able to either go home or to find a new place to rebuild their lives,” Lubbers told the BBC. “For them, these dry statistics reflect a special reality: the end of long years in exile and the start of a new life with renewed hope for the future.”
More than half a million people also returned to Afghanistan last year, something Lubbers said was “phenomenal [and] underscores the benefits of sustained international attention”. International attention as in wiping out the Taliban, and removing Saddam.
Refugees have registered their approval by voting with their feet. But there must be a conspiracy theory to explain it away.
I wonder how many of the returning exiles have been reading what the NYT wants to report.