The United States has resettled more than 16,000 Iraqis over the past two years. The Bush administration has contributed more than $500 million to the United Nations and other organizations to address the crisis.

Critics say the country that unleashed the chaos that triggered the exodus should be doing more.

"What we are seeing is small numbers," Kristele Younes, a senior advocate for Refugees International in Washington, says of the resettlements and assistance. She says the United States should be putting the same effort into solving the refugee crisis that it has put into prosecuting the war.

"Frankly, it's in its interests to do so," Younes says. "If the U.S. wants the educated Iraqis, the middle class to return to Iraq in safe and dignified conditions to rebuild their country, it needs to assist them in their countries of asylum now so that they keep their education, they keep their skills, they're able to survive."

In a sparsely furnished apartment in Amman, Hajwal clutches the documentary evidence of a prosperous life: Ownership papers to the factories that produced marble and sheepskin for export, deeds to the house where his family lived in the fashionable Mansour district of Baghdad and the farm where they raised chickens and grew oranges.

All have been overrun, he says, by squatters or soldiers. Now the family of nine lives in a four-bedroom apartment hard by a scrubby hillside in the Jordanian capital. Hajwal says he has run through the $100,000 he brought at the end of 2004. He has sold his car; his wife has sold her jewelry. They have pulled a son out of college and married off a daughter.

"I didn't want her to get married," he says. "I wanted to send her to university. She wanted to finish, maybe become a doctor. But I told her I couldn't afford university any more.

"I had 30 employees in Iraq," Hajwal says. "Now look at me. I'm asking for aid."

Similar laments echo across the region. In the sunbleached Damascus suburb of Saida Zainab, men in white robes and women in black burkhas dodge yellow taxis along the dusty, garbage-strewn thoroughfare now known as Iraqi Street.

Saida Zainab, named for the golden-domed shrine to a granddaughter of Muhammad that dominates the local skyline, has become the center of the Iraqi Shia refugee community in Syria.

"The good thing is security," says Sebti Jouma, a 65-year-old driver who fled Iraq after receiving an anonymous letter warning him to leave his home. "Here I can walk where I want."

The downside is poverty. Iraqis generally are not permitted to work in Syria; those who work illegally earn less and are vulnerable to exploitation.

"You make less money, and you are easily threatened," says Sura Jabbar al-Sheik, a refugee who now works as an outreach coordinator for the United Nations. "Your boss can say, 'If you don't do this for me, if you don't do that for me, I will report your to the police.'"

Some Iraqi women and girls have been pushed into prostitution. The town of Maraba, west of Damascus, has become notorious for a sex trade that caters to wealthy Gulf Arabs vacationing in Syria. Syrian officials say the majority who work the nightclubs now are Iraqis.

"This is sad," says Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the United States. "Iraq is a proud nation. It used to be a rich nation. It breaks the heart to think of what has happened."

At the Sameena in Saida Zainab - the restaurant takes its name from the Iraqi slang for "fat woman" - Hamid al-Dulayme serves up bowls of tashreeb, the traditional dish of lamb in onions and tomatoes, to a clientele he describes as 99 percent Iraqi. The 43-year-old former interpreter came to Damascus after the deaths of three brothers - one, he says, killed by the Mahdi Army, one by the Badr Brigade and one by al-Qaida.

"The Americans brought al-Qaida with them," Dulayme says. "Iraq was secure before the occupation. Now it is full of militias and criminals."

Among the refugees, nostalgia for Iraq under Saddam Hussein is common - and anger at the United States is palpable.

"Bush came in and destroyed the country," Wafa Ibrahim, a chemical engineer in Iraq before the war, says at a gathering of refugees in Amman. "He wanted the Iraqis to fight each other. He wanted to destroy our history."

The exodus is overwhelming Iraq's neighbors. Syria, a nation of 19.7 million, has taken in 1.2 million Iraqi refugees, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Jordan, with 6.2 million people, has absorbed 500,000 refugees. While neither has recognized the Iraqis formally as refugees, they have allowed access to schools and hospitals.