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At least 37m people made refugees by US ‘war on terror’

Image of Iraqi women and children [Feriq Fereç /Anadolu Agency]
Iraqi refugees are seen after arriving to Al Qayyarah town in Iraq on 18 October 2016 [Feriq Fereç /Anadolu Agency]

At least 37 million people have been displaced by the US “war on terror”, a new study has concluded. The details are contained in a damning report even as western nations continue to grapple with the influx of refugees from war-torn countries.

Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars was produced by Brown University’s Costs of War Project. It points out that the number of refugees “exceeds those displaced by every war since 1900, except World War Two.”

Highlighting the devastating impact of the now two-decade long “war on terror” the study concluded that 37 million refugees is a “very conservative estimate” and that the real figure could be as high as 59 million.

While the report accounts for the number of people, mostly civilians, displaced from countries targeted by the US in its “war on terror”, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and the Philippines, Middle East countries make up the highest number of refugees. With 9.2 million displaced in Iraq, the 2003 US invasion of the Arab state is seen as the main catalyst for the refugee crises.

“Since the George W. Bush administration launched a ‘global war on terror’ following Al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the US military has waged war continuously for almost two decades,” said the report. It added that US forces have fought in as many as 24 countries in that time.

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It also claims that “no one has calculated” the total number of people displaced by American wars since 2001, explaining that existing reports are “snapshots” which fail to account for all the victims of US wars in total.

The findings of the report have prompted discussions over how much responsibility the US and other western states which joined the “war on terror” should be acknowledged by them, given the resultant devastation that has caused the flight of millions of people and turned countries into failed states.

The New York Times pointed out that after previous wars, the US sometimes accepted large numbers of refugees from the countries in which it had been fighting. Following the Vietnam War, for example, America is said to have admitted approximately one million South-East Asians as war refugees, some of whom lived temporarily in camps on Guam and at the US Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton in Southern California.

No such programme has been developed by the US or its western partners to accommodate refugees caused by their wars since 2001, however. Instead, there has been a refusal to admit victims of the “war on terror” and a dangerous increase in far-right groups who have exploited the influx of refugees to serve their political interests.

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Asia & AmericasIraqMiddle EastNewsUS
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