Iraq Action Days Press Release

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Press release for Immediate Release        Contact: John Brennan-direct-202-585-2838

April 14, 2008                                         jbrennan@mww.com cell-202-258-3993

 

 

Real Stability in Iraq Depends on U.S. Response to

the Growing Iraqi Humanitarian Crisis

Forum provides the latest on-the-ground perspective

of the crisis and what needs to be done

 

(Washington, DC) – A coalition of non-governmental organizations (see list below) including InterAction, Refugee Council USA, International Rescue Committee, and Education for Peace in Iraq (EPIC), came together to provide the latest on-the-ground perspective of the deepening humanitarian crisis in Iraq and described the best way forward from the crisis. There was consensus that:

  • Displaced Iraqis in Iraq and neighboring countries are in immediate and urgent need of the most basic humanitarian assistance.
  • The United States should significantly increase humanitarian assistance to countries hosting Iraqi refugees, and continue to press the Iraq government and other countries to also respond generously to these needs.
  • The United States should provide strong support to non-governmental organizations assisting vulnerable Iraqis and should fund at least 50 percent of amounts requested in appeals from international organizations providing humanitarian support to Iraqis.
  • Additional bilateral assistance should also be provided to countries hosting Iraqi refugees to ease the strain on their national systems.

 

“On my recent trip to Iraq, it was completely clear and apparent that the country and the region are in the throes of a major humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of people – the UN is estimating over a million – do not even have access to clean water, food, or shelter – let alone adequate health services or educational opportunities,” said Heather Hanson, Director of Public Relations, Mercy Corps.  “US officials need to recognize that real stability in Iraq and the region depends upon our capacity to work together with the international community and Iraqi partners to support programs that provide the required emergency life-saving assistance, lay the groundwork for long-term reconciliation and development, and prevent further displacement.”

There was further agreement that the United States should continue and increase support for reconciliation, recovery, and community-based development work in Iraq that promotes citizen/government interaction and local economic development. Such programs should also improve stability in Iraq to enable the voluntary, safe return of displaced persons.

(Not yet approved)“Many of the millions Iraqis fleeing the ravages of war are women and children who are part of one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world,” said Bob Carey, Vice President of Resettlement of the Internal Rescue Committee and Chair of Refugee Council USA. “The U.S. has responded slowly and inadequately to the Iraqis displaced internally and those who have fled to neighboring countries and are now suffering from hunger, poverty and disease. We need to lead and increase support for relief and community-based development creating conditions necessary for these families to live in safety and dignity.”

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Page Two

There are more than 4 million Iraqis displaced within Iraq and in neighboring countries. In order to preserve human rights protection space in neighboring countries, the United States should be a global leader in resettling displaced Iraqis in an expedient manner, giving priority to the most vulnerable cases. In fact, tens of thousands of Iraqis for whom there is current legislation intended to help – remain in danger in their country. Also, it is now virtually impossible for Iraqis – even those fleeing death threats – to leave Iraq.

“The people of Iraq and the United States are interconnected by the events over the past five years, and a growing number of Americans understand the need and obligation to help displaced Iraqis,” said Ken Bacon, President of Refugees International. “The U.S. should be the global leader in resettling the most vulnerable Iraqi refugees, but we are lagging behind other countries. Most disturbing, we are failing to help many Iraqis who risked their lives to support U.S. forces and help with American reconstruction plans.”

 

Recommended additional funding in the FY2008 Supplemental to meet the humanitarian needs of Iraqis and sufficiently provide for other global humanitarian emergencies for key humanitarian assistance programs are as follows:

 

$345 million for Migration and Refugee Assistance: This recommendation reflects additional worldwide refugee needs and includes another $125 million for humanitarian assistance for displaced Iraqis above funding provided in the FY2008 Omnibus appropriations bill. It also includes $48 million to cover the MRA-related costs associated with the Special Immigrant Visa program which helps many Iraqis who are at risk because they helped the coalition effort.

 

$335 million for International Disaster Assistance: An additional $335 million for this account would help the United States better address the global humanitarian needs of victims of natural and man-made disasters, and allow for a recommended total FY2008 appropriation (Omnibus and Supplemental) of $185 million for the emergency humanitarian assistance needs of highly vulnerable Iraqis.

 

Up to $1.02 billion in Economic Support Funds: This request addresses the unique needs of the Iraqi displacement crisis. At least $120 million is needed to support USAID’s Community Action Program. The United States should also provide $900 in increased bilateral assistance to Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt to mitigate the impact of the Iraqi urban refugee populations on these countries’ infrastructure, services and local communities.

 

$78 million for Office of Refugee Resettlement: This funding is needed so ORR can provide refugee-like benefits to Iraqi recipients of Special Immigrant Visas and their families, as well as essential support for victims of torture.

 

Participating organizations: InterAction, Refugee Council USA, Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC), International Rescue Committee, 3D Security Initiative, Amnesty International USA, Chaldean Federation of America, Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America, Church World Service, Center for Victims of Torture, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Human Rights First, International Medical Corps, Mandaean Associations Union, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Mercy Corps, NETWORK: a national Catholic Social Justice Lobby, North American Dominican Justice and Peace Promoters, Open Society Policy Center,  Oxfam America, Refugees

International, Veterans for Common Sense, Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, and World Relief.