International Rescue Committee Urges Donor Nations to Respond to Iraqi Refugee Crisis
"The first step is for the international community to acknowledge that we are looking at a growing migration crisis of epic proportions," said George Rupp, IRC's president.
The two million Iraqis who have managed to flee to neighboring countries face unclear legal status and limited access to basic goods and services, shelter, education and health care. They are also placing a difficult burden on their weary hosts.
"Jordan and Syria in particular are showing signs of saturation with the influx of refugees," Rupp said. "The 700,000 Iraqis in Jordan and one million Iraqis in Syria give proof to the hospitality of these countries, but also to the strain being placed on already overburdened hosts," he added.
The International Rescue Committee urges the following:
• The $60 million funding request of the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) to assist Iraqi refugees must be viewed as a starting point for a much greater international commitment to meet the critical needs of those stranded in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and the Gulf countries.
• The international community must dramatically increase the number of refugees allowed to resettle in other countries. The United States bears a special responsibility in this regard, but the IRC appeals for European states and other nations such as Canada and Australia to meet their share of the refugee burden.
• The highest priority for resettlement must be given to the most vulnerable, particularly women and children; those with relatives already in third countries; and those at special risk because of association in Iraq with coalition forces or the coalition's civilian partners.
• The international community must launch a major humanitarian relief effort to assist the two million Iraqis displaced within their own borders who in addition to chronic insecurity now face extreme poverty and shortages of food and medicine.
Concerned with the flow of refugees, IRC is engaged in a campaign to bring heightened attention to their plight and is moving to establish a presence in Jordan from which to assist those in greatest need.
Founded in 1933, the International Rescue Committee is a global leader in relief, rehabilitation, post-conflict development, advocacy and resettlement services for refugees and others uprooted or affected by violent conflict and oppression.
Gregory Brown (Geneva)
Office: 41 22 731 3360
Mobile: 41 079 797 3144
Lydia Gomersall (London)
Office: 44 20 7692 2741
Mobile: 44 7779 855 021
Philip Wood (New York)
Office: 1 212 551 2950
Mobile: 1 212 786 2458