Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tell Your Senators: Iraqis need Aid, not War

Regardless of when U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq, the U.S. must do more to pursue peace through other means and help the Iraqi people.

Earlier this year, 1,000s of friends of EPIC and our partner, Refugees International, urged President Bush to do more to help Iraqi refugees and to support international relief efforts. After thousands of emails were sent to President Bush, the U.S. announced an $18 million contribution to the UN Refugee Agency. Although it falls far short of what’s needed, it is a step in the right direction and it will save lives.

Concerned citizens like you have an opportunity to help do it again, but on a much larger scale. But to explain how, here's a quick update on what's happening in Congress.

Within hours, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a $124 billion emergency spending bill for FY 2007. Marked up by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democratic leaders, the House spending bill would establish strict readiness standards for deploying combat forces and set a firm deadline of Aug. 31, 2008 to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq. While House Dems add critically needed funding for military and veterans healthcare and plus up funding for critical humanitarian accounts, the House legislation falls $250 million short of what’s needed to help displaced Iraqis. Pelosi's bill also fails to provide the level of economic assistance recommended by the Iraq Study Group to help stabilize Iraq by creating jobs for millions of unemployed Iraqis.

Gen. David Petraeus and other top U.S. commanders have repeatedly said the Iraq conflict does not have a military solution. What’s most needed is progress through diplomacy and in the Iraqi economic and political arenas.

Readers like you can help EPIC deliver that message to the Senate as the Senate Appropriations Committee prepares to consider the same spending bill. Call your Senators today.

This month, more than 40 national groups joined EPIC in urging Congress to support a surge in relief and development aid to Iraq. Today I need you to add your voice. Urge your Senators to help build peace in Iraq by supporting life-saving relief and sustainable development that benefits all Iraqis.

Concerned citizens like you helped push the President to take a small step towards helping the people of Iraq; now its time to get Congress to go much further.

NEWS FLASH: I just received word that our friend, Kristele Younes with Refugees International, has just returned from a fact-finding trip to Iraq and the region to learn more about the plight of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons. You can see her tonight on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (check your local listings) and tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition (during the first broadcast at 6 am on the East Coast, her segment will come on around 6:40 am EST).

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