The sectarian violence that has rocked Iraq for nearly ten days continues to spread through the nation, following the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s path to the capital, Baghdad. More than half a million Iraqis have been displaced, while almost 400,000 are currently seeking refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan, where the government has already begun constructing additional refugee camps in coordination with the UNHCR, in anticipation of extended periods of violence and larger influxes of refugees.
Our Iraqi allies, who worked with the US military during the Iraq War, were already in danger before this conflict arose. Now, however, they face threats from previous enemies, plus ISIS militants and adherents of separate religious denominations. When combined with the fact that the US embassy in Baghdad has slowed or stopped processing of all types of visa applications, it is clear that the present situation for Iraqis, especially former US military workers, is indeed quite dire.