Mohammad Saleem ran a successful supermarket in
The day came when they were told by militias to leave within 24 hours, he said. "It is not possible for us to start over in
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are 1.5 million Iraqis in
And expenses have risen. "I paid 300 dollars rent when I came here in early 2005," said Dr. Shakir Awad. "In 2006 I had to rent a smaller flat for the same amount of money because rent went up after more Iraqis fled for
A very large number of Iraqi refugees live on charity from Syrians.
"My Syrian landlord was generous enough to keep the same flat rent," Ikhlas Fadhil, a 35-year-old Iraqi woman with two little girls told IPS. "My husband and son were killed by American marines on the highway near Fallujah, and I had to bring my six-year-old daughter for treatment here. I thought things would be better in a year or less, so I sold all my jewellery for 5,000 dollars. I spent all of it in a year, and now I am living on charity."
Treatment for her daughter is being taken care of by the U.S.-based NGO, No More Victims.
The Syrian government does not allow Iraqis in
"There are small Iraqi associations and NGOs that fundraise for what they call special cases like widows and other vulnerable families," Numan Fadhil, an Iraqi sociologist who now works as a trader in
With every passing day the situation seems to get worse. "It (the refugee crisis) needs a major international effort far beyond UNHCR’s (the United Nations Refugee Agency) current modest assistance to maintain survival for people who were well off before the whole world decided to execute them by sanctions and occupation," said Fadhil.
UNHCR officials have told IPS that they are under-funded and understaffed.
Maki al-Nazzal, IPS correspondent in Syria, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, IPS U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported from the region for more than four years.