In nearly every way, the U.S. has fallen short in helping Iraqis displaced by violence.
We failed to provide sufficient resources for refugee host countries overwhelmed by the crisis. We failed to resettle significant numbers of refugees in our own country, admitting only two in as many months. And we even failed to provide for many who have risked their lives to help our forces and organizations in Iraq.
Earlier this year, the U.S. announced an agreement with UNHCR to resettle 7,000 Iraqi refugees. UNHCR made plans to identify and recommend these refugees to the U.S. by July, while the U.S. pledged $18 million toward the resettlement of these individuals. Six months have passed. What’s the status of this agreement? UNHCR, under-funded and stretched for staff, has managed to identify its 7,000 refugees ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, the U.S. has not yet funded the $18 million it promised.
As a result, nearly 4 million Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) face an uncertain future. Act now to support crucial legislation that restores their hope and ends the U.S. pattern of failure.
In addition to the UN-U.S. agreement, the U.S. House of Representatives is considering the "Responsibility to Iraqi Refugees Act of 2007" (H.R. 2265). Introduced by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Christopher Shays (R-CT), this bill would allow more Iraqis safe and legal passage into the U.S. and establish a Special Coordinator for Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons to respond to the crisis. It would also establish special provisions to help protect Iraq's most vulnerable refugees, including women-headed families and those who are in extreme danger of persecution for being affiliated with the U.S. in Iraq.
Yesterday, Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) introduced the "Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act." Although the bill does not go as far as H.R.2265, it is the most comprehensive legislation in the Senate for meeting the rapidly growing needs of Iraqis displaced by violence.
If you believe in what we are doing and want to create positive change yourselves, please Write to your Members of Congress urging them to support these bills. EPIC will hand-deliver your letters in honor of World Refugee Day. Together, we can help hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Iraqis and turn U.S. failures into successes.