Friday, July 10, 2009

WWB: brain drain

WHAT WAR BRINGS: brain drain

One of the sadder effects of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq is the massive “brain drain” that has resulted. Thousands, or tens of thousands, of scientists, academics, engineers, and doctors have fled Iraq for their own safety.

An al Jazeera report (You Tube video below) from June 2009 said that half of all Iraqi doctors have fled the country. The doctors and other professionals are scattered all over the Middle East, and many are living in poverty. They are afraid to return home because of fears of assassination. They have several Iraqis discussing how these concerns could be addressed, so that these professionals can return to Iraq to rebuild it. At this point in time, the focus is not on stopping the brain drain, but on reversing it.

In the article below, some statistics about Iraq are presented. They have some discrepancy with the Al Jazeera figures, but still paint a horrible picture.

Iraq War Facts, Results & Statistics at June 24, 2009

Percent of professionals who have left Iraq since 2003 - 40%

Iraqi Physicians Before 2003 Invasion - 34,000

Iraqi Physicians Who Have Left Iraq Since 2003 Invasion - 12,000

Iraqi Physicians Murdered Since 2003 Invasion - 2,000

Of course, reconstruction and rebuilding of the Iraqi society is going to much, much harder with this many professionals now refugees. The following article is from 2006:

Iraq: Brain Drain Poses Threat To Future

The lack of viable opportunities coupled with the devastating daily violence has caused many of Iraq's engineers, doctors, lawyers, and professors to flee the country while some of those who remain have been killed. The massive "brain drain" may eventually have a chilling effect on Iraq's future ability to rebuild itself.

The flight of its best and brightest professionals is nothing new in Iraq. Under Saddam Hussein, an estimated 4 million people fled into exile. After the fall of the Hussein regime, many emigres returned in the hopes that Iraq would become a center of learning, scientific research, and art in the Arab world. However, instability and violence have forced many professionals to flee the country, despite the government raising their salaries in an effort to keep them from leaving.

A more recent article (2008) said this:

Iraq's deadly brain drain

Iraq’s university professors claim they have been the victims of targeted assassinations since 2003. Many cases go uninvestigated, but the sheer scale of the attacks has driven thousands of academics out of Iraq.

….. “It is clear that academics are being specifically targeted,” says Brendan O’Malley, author of a 2007 UN report on higher education. But the exact scale of the killing is hard to arrive at. Isam al-Rawi, a geology professor and head of the Association of Iraqi Lecturers, compiled figures about the death of fellow professors until he himself was killed in 2006.

And, of course, all those assassinations lead to many more academics fleeing the country. The above cited article discusses who might be behind the assassinations, with the likely suspects being the US, Israel, Iran, and Iraqis (because of sectarian violence). The US did round up academics who were working in weapons related fields early on in the occupation. Some were imprisoned, some were killed in the violence of the home raids.

One local Iraqi paper in Iraq recently put the blame squarely on the US:

U.S. blamed for flight of Iraq’s brain drain

The U.S. is to blame for the exodus of Iraqi scientists and professionals which has lead to shortages in specialized staff in medicine, higher education and several other sectors, said a senior member of parliament.

Basem al-Hussain of the parliamentary commission on displacement and migration said the government still needed to have “the right laws and mechanism” on how to deal with the returning professionals.

Hussain said the flight of professionals was because of the chaos that accompanied the U.S. invasion “which bears the responsibility for the brain drain.”
This article also talks about the efforts to bring the professionals back to Iraq – but many do not want to return, due to the security situation.

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: brain drain on a massive scale.

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