Here’s another bit, this time from Alternet, on the refugee crisis. First a bit about the extent of it:

“Return to Iraq?” asks 35-year-old Ahmed Alwan, an Iraqi engineer now working at a restaurant in Damascus. “There is no Iraq to return to, my friend. Iraq only exists in our dreams and memories.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported September last year that there are between 1.2 and 1.4 million Iraqi refugees in Syria alone.

Most, like Alwan, do not intend to return.

“I shall never return to Iraq until the last American soldier and Iranian mullah leaves,” Alwan says. “It is their country now, not ours. The only thing that might take me back is when I decide to fight for Iraq’s real liberty.”

And then a bit about the spinning of it by U.S. officials and media:

A UNHCR report issued last month contradicts reports by mainstream media in the U.S., and claims by the Bush administration, that more Iraqis are returning to their homes than the number leaving.

The report says that from February 2006-October 2007 Syria received between 30,000-60,000 refugees each month. Immigration officials at al-Tanf on the border say the daily average for those entering Syria from Iraq in late January was over 1,200, while the daily average crossing back was less than 700.

…a passenger transport company manager in Damascus told IPS. “People just move back and forth to check their property, cash their pensions and salaries and for other necessities, but the media make it look like people returning home.”

The rest of the article is a lot of the same stuff we’ve already heard: people aren’t returning out of fear of the instability, fear of retaliation because they helped the Americans, lack of opportunities, rising prices of necessities, etc… Basically a country in ruins. But hey! The surge is working! so….there’s that….