Iraqi asylum seekers forcibly returned from…Europe?

The UN Refugee Agency set out guidlines last April which advised that asylum seekers from central Iraq be considered in need of international protection due to the human rights and security situation in central Iraq.  Not all governments, however, are taking heed.  From the UN Refugee Agency:

…the UK attempted to forcibly return 44 Iraqi men to Baghdad earlier this month. They were reportedly unsuccessful asylum claimants held in immigration removal centres in the UK. Iraq only accepted 10 who were allowed to leave the chartered aircraft in Baghdad, and the remaining 34 were returned to the UK and placed in immigration centres.Other European states have signed readmission agreements with Iraq for voluntary and forced return. Denmark has forcibly returned 38 people originating mainly from Central and Southern Iraq since signing its agreement in May 2009. Sweden has undertaken some 250 forced returns with an unspecified number of returnees originating from the five central governorates of Iraq since signing an agreement in February 2008. UNHCR has also concerns about the safety and dignity of these returns.

This is just awful.  Imagine that you are from Anbar and managed to survive Saddam’s brutality, the war, the civil war, and — against all odds — escaped to Europe.   Now imagine that upon setting foot on European soil you apply for asylum only to be forced back on a plane to Bagdhad. It is hard to contemplate the disappointment and frustration one would feel in that situation. 

I dare say that the UK, like the United States, bears a certain amount of responsibility for the plight of Iraqi refugees.  Returning asylum seekers to places that the UN says is unsafe is an abrogation of that responsibility.