IRC Says Iraqi Refugees Urgently Need Help from U.S., Other Nations
“The flight of almost 2 million Iraqi citizens to other countries makes this a refugee crisis of historic proportions,” said IRC president George Rupp. “It is urgent that the international community meet the U.N. refugee agency’s appeal for $60 million as a first step in addressing the needs of these people.”
The funding would assist the nearly 2 million refugees who the U.N. says have fled to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, as well as 1.7 million citizens who have been displaced inside the borders of Iraq.
The IRC also called on the U.S. government to launch an expanded initiative to resettle Iraqi refugees in the U.S., with a focus on three groups: the most vulnerable, particularly religious minorities; those with relatives already in the U.S.; and those at special risk because of their association in Iraq with U.S.-led coalition forces or the coalition’s civilian contractors. A number of these Iraqis — including translators and drivers — have been killed, and the security of their surviving family members has been compromised. “The U.S. bears a special obligation to such individuals, and they should be afforded protection and, when necessary, the opportunity of resettlement in the U.S.,” said Bob Carey, the IRC’s vice president of resettlement.
Carey said it was urgent that the international community support U.N. efforts to ensure the safety and security of displaced Iraqis. “We know from experience that loss of life, disease and misery can occur when large numbers of people are displaced and lack access to food, shelter, clothing, sanitation or protection,” Carey said. “To date there has been no coordinated approach or response to the growing refugee population.” These measures need to be undertaken immediately, both for humanitarian reasons and to prevent a destabilization of the region that could be caused by the presence of massive numbers of desperate refugees, he said.