Much of the debate over the future of Iraq seems to be cast within a military frame of reference.
What receives only passing and occasional attention is the huge and ongoing humanitarian crisis. The Mennonite Central Committee reports that the Iraqi refugee population is the fastest growing refugee population and Iraqis are the third largest displaced population.
The United Nations has estimated the total number of displaced Iraqis to be more than 4.4 million people. About half of these are refugees who have fled Iraqi, while the other half is displaced within the borders of Iraq. The International Organization for Migration reports that there were 1.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq before the February 2006 Samarra mosque bombing. Since then, another 1.2 million have become internally displaced.
Internal displacement in Iraq slowed in 2007, due to improved security in limited areas, but also due to the homogenization of communities, with fewer people forced out. While there are reports of Iraqis now returning to their homes, the situation remains dire. MCC staff on the ground state that it is too early to say whether the alleged improved security represents a sustainable trend but that the human casualty rate is still far too high. Many refugees return to Iraq only to be internally displaced. Conditions in Iraq remain inadequate: there is a lack of access to food, health care, housing and education, which, often times, is stressed by the influx of IDPs.