There has been little public discussion about the possibility of a mass exodus of Iraqi refugees as a consequence of a US-led attack against Iraq. Nor has any consideration been given to the implications of a refugee crisis on the security and stability of Iraq’s immediate neighbours. Yet, as past humanitarian emergencies clearly demonstrate, early planning is essential for the uncertainties of military action.
Perhaps the most alarming feature of present contingency planning is the almost total lack of coordination between the US government and military, the UN agencies, and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The military has been unwilling to discuss its contingency plans or assumptions for fear of revealing its war strategy. Consequently, NGOs are left in a void, unable to know what other major actors are planning and prevented from making adequate plans because of government restrictions on their activities in Iraq and Iran.