Saturday, April 29, 2006


A new estimate by one of Iraq's vice presidents has put the number of Iraqi families fleeing sectarian violence at 100,000, far outstripping previous projections and raising the possibility that a total of a half-million people could be displaced.

The estimate, made Friday by Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite leader selected as one of two vice presidents, is much higher than other recent estimates. For example, the national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, said in an interview last week that 13,750 families had been displaced, which could mean about 70,000 people.

Yet both statements go far beyond estimates by American military leaders, who have said there is no "widespread movement" of Iraqis fleeing from sectarian fighting.

I'm so surprised. I would have expected American military leaders to say, "Looks like we have a huge refugee problem here; tens of thousands of Iraqis are fleeing Baghdad to escape uncontrolled violence by militias and death squads."

Anyway, I see this as a positive sign. Iraqis are breathing the fresh air of freedom now; and free people are free to choose refugee status if they prefer that to being killed.

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