Friday, May 23, 2008

The Humanitarian Measure in Numbers:


Like promised, here are more details on the measure approved yesterday. The following is a description of the programs related to addressing the Iraqi displacement crisis and the funds approved by the Congress for those programs’ accounts:

Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA):
• The Department of State’s Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account helps the United States meet its domestic and international obligations to protect and assist refugees and host communities. The two major line-items within MRA are overseas refugee assistance and U.S. refugee admissions. MRA funds for overseas assistance are used to support UN agencies, the ICRC, and international NGOs to provide protection and direct assistance to refugees. The Refugee Admissions portion of MRA provides funding to identify, admit, and provide initial reception and placement services for refugees admitted to the United States. Resettlement serves as a durable solution for individual refugees and demonstrates responsibility-sharing to encourage countries of “first asylum” to keep their doors open to refugees in need of protection. For fiscal years 2008 and 2009, Congress approved $680,500,000.

International Disaster Assistance Account (IDA):
• IDA helps address the needs of a wide range of civilians displaced or otherwise affected by conflict or other disasters. Congress should ensure funding for this program to address urgent humanitarian needs inside Iraq. The funding will allow for increased support to non-governmental organizations assisting vulnerable Iraqis and for a robust U.S. response to the needs identified in the U.N. Consolidated Appeal for Iraq. For fiscal years 2008 and 2009, Congress approved $665,000,000.

Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA):
• ERMA is an account that the President may draw on at any time to meet “unexpected urgent refugee needs”. ERMA funds are used to respond to breaks in the food pipeline, unanticipated new emergencies or unforeseen escalations in existing crises. For fiscal year 2008, Congress approved $36,608,000.

Iraq Community Action Program (CAP):
• CAP is a USAID program which is implemented by an alliance of U.S. based NGOs and is funded through the Economic Support Fund (ESF) account. This program works with Iraqi communities to identify their own needs and implement sustainable rehabilitation projects by promoting citizen-government engagement and local economic development. For fiscal year 2008, Congress approved $75,000,000.

Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund:
• The fund provides continued assistance to Iraqi civilians who suffer losses as a result of the military operations. For fiscal year 2008, Congress approved $5,000,000.

Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund and the Community Action Program (CAP) were allocated $30,000,000 in unspecified initial funding for fiscal year 2009. Bringing the total funding of both programs to $110,000,000 for fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

Bilateral Assistance to help Iraqi refugees in Jordan:
• Through the Economic Support Fund (ESF), Congress approved $150,000,000 for Jordan during fiscal year 2008. This amount is to be used to meet the needs of Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

You called for these accounts to be funded during your advocacy days and through your phone calls. We are pleased to see that your lawmakers listened to you and that our combined efforts have made an impact.

It is indeed an important step, but we still need to keep the vulnerable Iraqis along with their families in mind and we should help them in every way possible. Please take a minute to sign our humanitarian pledge (join the thousand people who have already signed) and in this holiday weekend, we invite your generous giving spirit to support EPIC’s work.

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

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