Thursday, October 02, 2008

Sen. Clinton Joins Rep. Hastings in Championing Bill to Authorize Multi-year Humanitarian Funding for Vulnerable Iraqis

Last week Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) introduced Senate companion legislation to Representative Hastings' (D-FL) bill H.R. 6496, The Iraqi Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement, and Security Act of 2008. The bill — S.3541 — addresses the humanitarian crisis in and surrounding Iraq, authorizing multi-year funding for a comprehensive humanitarian plan to assist millions of Iraqis who have fled violence and instability in their homeland. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than 2 million Iraqis are internally displaced and another 2 million Iraqis have found refuge in the neighboring countries of Jordan, Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Egypt and Turkey.
“The United States has an obligation to address this great and growing crisis in Iraq and other countries in the region,” said Clinton. “This legislation will take important steps to ease the burden on host countries that have seen this influx of refugees and to help resettle the displaced population within Iraq.”
H.R.6496/S.3541 would require the U.S. to:
  • Authorizes $700 million for FY 2009, 2010 and 2011 for the relief of Iraqi refugees, internally displaced persons, and other vulnerable Iraqis;
  • Increases direct accountable bilateral assistance, as appropriate under U.S. law, and funding for international organizations and NGOs working in the region;
  • Authorizes $500 million to increase humanitarian aid and infrastructure support for Jordan;
  • Develop an immediate and long-term strategy for Iraq, in coordination with the Government of Iraq, United Nations (UN), nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s), and host countries, to meet the humanitarian and security needs of refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDP’s); and
  • Work with the Government of Iraq, the UN, and NGO’s to improve the Iraqi Government’s capacity and ability to provide relief for all communities of vulnerable populations throughout Iraq.
  • Lead efforts in resettling persecuted Iraqis by raising the ceiling on U.S. admissions of Iraqi refugees by at least 20,000 during fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011.
This bill brings much needed attention to the plight of Iraqis traumatized by violence, persecution, and the loss of loved ones. If passed into law,
H.R.6496/S.3541 would require U.S. humanitarian action for peace in Iraq.

We hope you'll join us in supporting this important legislation. Urge your Senators and Representative to cosponsor The Iraqi Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement, and Security Act of 2008. You can reach your elected Member of Congress via the Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121 or (202) 226-3121.

Organizations supporting H.R.6496/S.3541 include:

The Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict (CIVIC)
CHF International
Church World Service
Congregation of Divine Providence of San Antonio, TX
Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston, Texas
Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC)
International Medical Corps
International Rescue Committee
The Iraq Foundation
The Leadership Conference on Women Religious
The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mercy Center
Mercy Corps
National Catholic Peace Movement
Office of Justice and Peace of the Sisters of Charity of New York
Open Society Policy Center
Pax Christi USA: the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Refugees International
Save the Children
Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dubuque, Iowa
Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas City, Kansas
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Justice Team
Sisters of St. Francis in Tiffin, Ohio,
Sisters of St. Joseph NW, Pennsylvania

Photo caption: Joined by fellow Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, Clinton speaks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad, Iraq. Courtesy of Ali Al-Saadi-Pool, Getty Images.

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