David Aaronovitch notes in The Guardian:
Ann Thomas, the Respect Euro-candidate for the southwest, claims that Labour has scapegoated asylum seekers and refugees, "despite the fact that Blair's wars in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq have caused people to desert their homes and seek refuge." Sierra Leone, Ann? Do you think that people stayed put during the good ol' hand-chopping days, and then deserted the country in droves once British troops arrived to protect them? Does Ann even know where Sierra Leone is? In every case cited, people have returned home because of "Blair's wars"; the truth being the exact opposite of what Ann Thomas says it is. Honestly, you'd be better off voting for a donkey.
I've remarked before that the great under-reported news story about the Iraq war is that the predictions by anti-war activists of a refugee crisis were proved exactly wrong. Amnesty International, the Liberal Democrats and the rest were not only factually wrong on this point: they also completely misunderstood the character of the conflict. The people of Iraq understood perfectly well that Coalition forces were targeting the Baathist regime and were at great pains to avoid civilian casualties.
Conversely, in Afghanistan an established refugee crisis was reversed by the overthrow of a brutal theocracy. Last week, a UNHCR spokesman in Kabul was able to report:
The resumption of the facilitated repatriation operation this year in March started with high figures that continued to raise [sic] by week – from March to 26 May this year 242,303 Afghan refugees returned home from Pakistan and Iran with or without assistance, bringing the total number of returnees from these two countries to 3, 157, 178 from March 2002.
Taking into account 443,897 internally displaced who also returned to their previous homes, the total figure of those who returned to their places in Afghanistan is 3,601,075.
In the past few weeks, an average of 5,000 Afghans daily crossed over from Pakistan and Iran. The returning figures this year seem to be already higher than last year in the same period. However, the peak of returns is expected when the school year ends in Pakistan and Iran, in mid June.
If you regret the overthrow of theocratic tyranny and the chance for a new life for millions of displaced Afghans, you at least have a clear choice of whom to vote for. But I'll stick with Eeyore.