IRC Urges U.S. to Take Lead in Southern Balkans
"Washington must respond to the unfolding crisis in Macedonia both politically to prevent the war from worsening and through greater humanitarian preparedness to address the needs of civilians already displaced or under threat," the June 22 letter asserted.
The humanitarian groups, which have been working in the region for 10 years, resolved that since the conflict is politically driven, a United States policy response is necessary "to avoid widening bloodshed, suffering and displacement." The letter pointed out that the past decade of foreign aid to the region demonstrated that humanitarian assistance could not be effectively used "as a substitute for robust policy."
The humanitarian organizations called for a clear policy from President Bush, noting that previous United States involvement in the Balkans demonstrated that a failure to confront conflicts early in their development leads to greater suffering among civilian populations and an increase in the cost of subsequent U.S. action. "We do not wish to again become a 'humanitarian alibi' for governments unwilling to take responsibility for averting yet another preventable war in the Balkans, nor do we wish, for want of resources, to be unprepared in the event of a deepening crisis," the letter said.
Besides the IRC, signers include the American Refugee Committee, Christian Children's Fund, Church World Service, Congressional Hunger Center, Doctors of the World, International Medical Corps, International Relief and Development, Mercy Corps International, Refugees International, and USA for UNHCR.