This is life adrift. More than 2 million Iraqis have fled their homeland since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Most are living in Syria, Jordan and other Middle Eastern nations. Now, a growing number are heading toward Europe, especially Sweden, which for decades has offered refugees and asylum seekers government aid and generous family reunification plans. Nearly 9,000 Iraqis, more than half of all those who arrived in Europe from the war-torn country in 2006, moved to Sweden. European officials estimate that as many as 40,000 more Iraqis may reach the continent this year.
Since the overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the U.S. has taken in 466 Iraqi refugees. Washington has been reluctant to accept them for fear doing so would run counter to U.S. policy to one day return them to a secure Iraq. There have also been concerns about mistakenly granting asylum to militants. Increased violence in Iraq and criticism by human rights groups, however, appeared to have prompted the White House to announce in February that the U.S. would accept up to 7,000 Iraqi refugees by the end of this year.