Refugee Camps?

Is that a fair characterization of downtown “occupy” sites?  Washington D.C.’s Department of Health Director, himself an immigrant from Pakistan, seems to think so:

Akhter, who is originally from Pakistan and has worked for the District government for over 20 years, said that the situation in the two parks is reminiscent of refu­gee camps he has toured overseas in the Middle East and Africa during his public health career. He said he fears disaster could strike during a severe winter storm.

“Going down to these camps, it’s no different than refu­gee camps,” Akhter said. “People are living in very primitive conditions and they’re doing it by choice. They are very brave and thoughtful people, but my concern is that they should also take care of themselves. When the weather goes bad suddenly we’re watching a tragedy unfold in the middle of Washington, D.C. ”

I question how much “choice” there really is for many of them.  Millions of people have been made functionally homeless because of foreclosures.  It must be difficult for a Pakistani immigrant to imagine that he escaped those kinds of conditions in the middle east only to find them springing up in the land of milk and honey.

But that’s where we are.

 

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