Hermits Rock

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Nir Rosen’s reporting from Damascus about the Iraqi refugee crisis got me wondering: What are the consequences of the Iraqi diaspora outside of the Middle East? Any given time there is a base population of refugees in a region and in the world, and there are agencies and NGOs set up to accommodate them. You might say there is a kind of equilibrium that the settled and unsettled generally reach, and that equilibrium can account for many small conflicts or natural disasters. However, global disasters (such as the 2004 tsunami) and prolonged wars (such as the current one in Iraq) place great strains on that equilibrium. Three million or more people have left Iraq since the war began; fully half of them are in Syria. Surely as Syria has tried to absorb that great influx, it has also turned others away that it might have served in previous years, and those people in turn have gone elsewhere—perhaps to Egypt, or Turkey, or even further west. Who is turning up in France that would have gone elsewhere five years ago? Who in England? Perhaps our Cyprus-based refugee scholars could enlighten us?