According to a press release from the State Department, the U.S. has just contributed an additional $19 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for Iraq refugee programs.
This contribution will provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance to Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and other countries in the region as well as to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and non-Iraqi refugees inside Iraq. It supports UNHCR's initiative to raise enrollment of Iraqi refugee children in schools throughout the region from 60,000 at present to 200,000 during the 2007-2008 school year. It will also support an increase in primary health services for Iraqi refugees in the region and sustain protection through registration, legal assistance, and resettlement activities for Iraqi refugees.
Inside Iraq, UNHCR coordinates the international response to Iraq's IDPs and refugees, provides emergency assistance to over 150,000 of the more than 2 million internally displaced Iraqis, and gives lifesaving assistance to 45,000 third-country refugees, including 15,000 Palestinians.
On July 12, 2007 UNHCR issued a Revised Supplementary Appeal for the Iraq Situation Response, raising its Iraq program budget to $123 million. This new U.S. contribution, along with our earlier contribution of $18 million, brings our total 2007 contribution to UNHCR's Iraq programs to $37 million.
This is a great start -- but $37 million is only 30% of $123 million, and traditionally the U.S. has funded at least half of UNHCR requests. Because we are in large part responsible for this refugee/IDP crisis, we can and must do more.
You can still do your part by taking two minutes to personalize our pre-written letter to Congress in support of legislation that would further fund UNHCR and protect and assist Iraqi refugees. And if you've already taken action, maybe pass the link along to a few friends or make a donation to EPIC today.