Back in early May, on my first day as an intern here at EPIC, Erik Gustafson told me about a young man named Kirk Johnson. Erik told me Kirk was a former USAID employee who had worked in Iraq and was now compiling a list of Iraqi refugees who had worked with the U.S. and who fled as a result of “collaborating” with the occupation. It was a fascinating story, and I was eager to meet him.
I spoke with Kirk later that day over the phone. It turned out we had both studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo, and each felt very strongly about the moral obligation of the United States to address the worsening disaster in Iraq, especially in regard to Iraqi refugees. Since then, I have become more actively involved with Kirk and his work.
Today EPIC releases the second and final Ground Truth Interview with Kirk Johnson. In the first interview, Kirk talked about his experiences in Iraq and Fallujah and about his PTSD-related accident in the Dominican Republic. (See my recent blog on non-combat PTSD here and see the New York Times July 5th top story on the topic here.) Now, he talks about his work back in the U.S. and the dire situation faced by Iraqi refugees. Kirk shares traumatic stories of his Iraqi friends who were targeted for their work with the U.S. and subsequently abandoned by their allies. They are in urgent need of international support.
UNHCR promised to refer 7,000 Iraqi refugees to the U.S. for resettlement, which they accomplished ahead of schedule last month. The ball is now in our court. We have been blogging and delivering constituents' letters to Congress in support of Iraqi refugees for months now. It is the responsibility of this administration to expedite the process of resettlement for high-risk refugees and to bring in as many of our allies as possible before the end of this fiscal year, and in years to come.