According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there is an estimate of over 4 million Iraqi refugees around the world, including 1.9 million in Iraq, 2 million in neighbouring Middle East countries, and around 200,000 in countries outside the Middle East.
Since 2006, Iraqis have been the leading nationality seeking asylum in industrialised countries, including the EU. Increasing tensions in the Middle East and the treatment of Iraqi refugees as temporary guests in the Arab states has led to increased travel distance for Iraqi asylum seekers.
Nevertheless, Europe's performance in addressing the refugee crisis that resulted from the US-led invasion of Iraq has been widely criticised by the UNHCR, which denounced the small number of asylum applicants accepted by the EU.
There are more than 1500 Iraqi refugees in the Island of Samos suffering from neglect and the lack of health services and other humanitarian aids.
Abu Omar al-Samarrai, another Iraqi refugee but from the city of Tikrit, has said that he and his family were forced to move to Samos after Iraqi state-sponsored Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella of mainly Shi’i militias backed by Iran, demolished his house. These militias forced him and many other residents to leave their homes, it is a displacement technique to make demographic changes, according to al-Samarrai
“The Greek authorities are unable to help us because of the economic crises and the lack of support from international organisations,”, he said.
"All refugees in Greece are living in tents and are facing same hard living conditions that they had in the displacement camps in Iraq. There is a significant food shortage and absence of health services", al-Samarrai added.
Al-Samarrai's wife is pregnant and his daughter is ill, but there is no healthcare provided to them. They have been victims of deliberate neglect that forced them to return to Turkey, the route they had used to move to Greece. “This is exactly what is happening now; the refugees are either returning back to Turkey or applying for returning to Iraq." al-Sammarai said.
It is worth mentioning that tens of Iraqi refugees are still crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece on a daily basis. The Iraqi government have failed in their responsibilities toward citizens turned refugees. There is no direct or indirect support the Iraqi government provides to the Iraqi refugees, or even it cooperates with UN agencies to provide food and health assistance. The Iraqi government has been notably ungenerous toward its people stranded abroad despite being flush with oil money.