More than 2 million civilians have fled the kidnappings, car bombs and killings of war-ravaged Iraq for the relative safety of Jordan, Syria and other Arab neighbors. The greatest refugee exodus in the Middle East since the Palestinian flight of 1948 is impoverishing the Iraqi middle class — and straining relations in an already volatile region. Baltimore Sun reporter Matthew Hay Brown follows the refugee trail, from the Middle East to Maryland.
Brown traveled to Syria and Jordan on a World Affairs Journalism Fellowship funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and administered by the International Center for Journalists. In recent years, United Nations officials say, when refugees have been identified by name in the Western news media, their families in Iraq have been threatened or harmed. The Sun permitted many of the refugees interviewed for these articles to adopt assumed names to protect their relatives in Iraq.
A hidden exodus has impoverished hundreds of thousands of families, drained a crippled nation of its professional class and strained relations in an already volatile corner of the world.
The United States has given more money and accepted more refugees than the rest of the world combined. Critics say it's not enough.
In Baltimore, Iraqi professionals face frustration as they try to begin their lives anew.