Iraqis in Minnesota
According to the UNHCR, violence and massive violations of human rights in Iraq have uprooted more than 4 million Iraqis. About 2 million Iraqis are in Syria and Jordan and another 2 million are internally displaced in Iraq. The current exodus has been called the largest population movement in the Middle East since 1948. One in seven Iraqis is now uprooted with a further 2,000 estimated to be fleeing their homes daily.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the primary entity tasked with ensuring the protection of refugees in countries of asylum in the region. Resettlement to the US or one of nine other resettlement countries is a possibility for only a limited number of these refugees. The UNHCR has eleven criteria to determine if resettlement is appropriate, including Iraqis who worked for the Multinational Force in Iraq, the US government or US companies, households headed by women, torture survivors, and members of religious minorities.
Many Iraqi refugees who have resettled to Minnesota are highly educated professionals and successful businesspeople including doctors and engineers who speak English. For this group, one of the most frustrating realities of resettlement is that they lose the value of their education and training and cannot practice their profession in the US without going through a lengthy and complicated – many times impossible – recertification process.
The number of Iraqis in Minnesota is difficult to estimate. According to the 2000 census, Iraqis in Minnesota numbered only 500. However, a Special Agent of the FBI’s Minneapolis office, which interviewed Minnesota Iraqis for homeland security purposes in late 2002 and early 2003, says about 1,000 Iraqis live in the metropolitan area alone. In Minnesota, most Iraqis live in Fridley, Coon Rapids, and Brooklyn Park.
Minnesota is also home to the restaurant Babani’s, famed to be the first Kurdish restaurant to open in the United States.
Refugees from Iraq Center for Applied Linguistics
Muslim Refugees in the United States: A Guide for Service Providers Center for Applied Linguistics
Fact Sheet: Iraqis in Minnesota Statis Health