Goal for Iraqi Refugee Admissions in 09 is Insufficient; IRC Urges Next US Administration to Do More
“We commend the US government for meeting its target of resettling 12,000 Iraqi refugees in 2008. It represents a significant achievement,” says Bob Carey, the IRC’s vice president of refugee resettlement programs. “But that number was much too low to begin with. Now that systems are in place to process greater numbers of vulnerable Iraqi civilians, an increase of only 5,000 next year seems particularly meager.”
Millions of Iraqi civilians have been driven from their homes by ongoing violence. The UN estimates that as many as two million have fled to Syria, Jordan and other overburdened countries in the region and are growing increasingly destitute. Some two and a half million others are estimated to be displaced inside Iraq and many are living in dire conditions.
“It is urgent that the US government ramp up aid and the admissions process, especially inside Iraq where the numbers and needs are the greatest,” says Carey. “There are tens of thousands of vulnerable Iraqis in harm’s way, including those who risked their lives to work for the US.”
The IRC is alarmed by exaggerated reports of improving stability in Iraqi communities, as well as statements and enticements that promote the premature return of displaced families.
“For many Iraqi civilians, going home could be a death sentence,” says Michael Kocher, who oversees IRC’s international aid programs. “The reality is that all but a tiny fraction of uprooted Iraqis are staying put because they know their neighborhoods are still violent, not safe, and lack basic services. To encourage and lure returns at this stage is irresponsible.”
The IRC urges the next administration to recognize America’s special obligation to help vulnerable Iraqis, vastly increase humanitarian aid in the region and for resettlement, pressure the Iraqi government and others to adequately address the refugee crisis and set a global standard for granting sanctuary to more Iraqi refugees who have nowhere else to turn.
The International Rescue Committee provides humanitarian aid in Iraq, Jordan and Syria and resettles nearly 18% of the Iraqis who have been granted refuge in the United States.
Iraqi Refugee Crisis Special Report
Melissa Winkler, 646-734-0305 / 212-551-0972 / melissa.winkler@theIRC.org