Boxer, Johnson, Colleagues Write to Iraqi Prime Minister Regarding Country’s Urgent Humanitarian Crisis

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Hundreds of Thousands of Iraqi Civilians Fleeing ISIL Are in Urgent Need of Critical Assistance
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) – joined by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Christopher Coons (D-DE), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) – sent a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi regarding humanitarian aid for the nearly two million Iraqis displaced by the violent campaign of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The letter follows a Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing chaired by Senator Boxer last month on ISIL’s brutal tactics and the growing regional humanitarian crisis. (Full video of that hearing is available here. Senator Boxer’s statement from the hearing is available here. Senator Johnson’s statement from the hearing is available here.)

“We have heard firsthand about the suffering and harsh conditions facing these men, women, and children—many of whom have taken refuge in Iraq’s Kurdistan region,” wrote the Senators. “These civilians are in dire need of basic necessities—food, clean water, and shelter. In particular, we are concerned about the welfare of women and children—who make up a majority of the displaced population.”

In their letter, the Senators ask for Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Abadi’s leadership in ensuring that critical humanitarian assistance reaches vulnerable communities most in need—including Iraqi civilians who have taken refuge in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

“As such, we respectfully ask that you take every action to ensure there are no gaps or delays in aid distribution, and that available assistance is dispersed without any discrimination based on sect, ethnicity, or religion. We also ask that you coordinate closely with KRG officials, local authorities, and key international actors to provide them with the resources they need to protect and care for displaced civilians and to continue the fight against ISIL,” the Senators wrote.

The full text of today’s letter is below.

January 12, 2015

His Excellency Dr. Haider Al-Abadi

Prime Minister, Republic of Iraq

Dear Prime Minister Al-Abadi:

We write to commend and show appreciation for your efforts as Prime Minister in beginning to heal the sectarian rifts within Iraqi society and to build a stable, secure and more prosperous country for all Iraqis.

As you know well, one of the greatest threats facing our two nations is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Over the past year, ISIL has taken control of vast swaths of territory across Iraq and Syria with the goal of establishing radical Islamic rule. In its wake, ISIL has left a trail of brutal violence and abuse—targeting other Muslims, ethnic and religious minorities, and women and girls. As a result, nearly two million Iraqis have been displaced.

We have heard firsthand about the suffering and harsh conditions facing these men, women, and children—many of whom have taken refuge in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. These civilians are in dire need of basic necessities—food, clean water, and shelter. In particular, we are concerned about the welfare of women and children—who make up a majority of the displaced population.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has stepped forward to provide sanctuary to many of these desperate individuals. However, the sheer volume of the displaced has put a tremendous burden on the KRG. According to the KRG Education Ministry, over 600 schools have been converted into shelters to help deal with the estimated 520,000 displaced people now living in the Dohuk region. Even outside the Kurdish Region of Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens also need urgent assistance – whether clean water and food or shelter for winter.

Despite pledges by your government and the international community to address this humanitarian crisis, we are deeply concerned that these critical resources are not reaching those who need them most. With winter now settling in, it is imperative that these vulnerable civilians receive immediate and sustained assistance.

As such, we respectfully ask that you take every action to ensure there are no gaps or delays in aid distribution, and that available assistance is dispersed without any discrimination based on sect, ethnicity, or religion. We also ask that you coordinate closely with KRG officials, local authorities, and key international actors to provide them with the resources they need to protect and care for displaced civilians and to continue the fight against ISIL. We are hopeful that under your leadership all Iraqis will one day have an equal opportunity to live in peace and security.

We stand ready to work with you on this and other issues of mutual interest.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer

United States Senator

Ron Johnson

United States Senator

Richard Durbin

United States Senator

Marco Rubio

United States Senator

Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator

Ed Markey

United States Senator

Christopher Coons

United States Senator

Tim Kaine

United States Senator

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Related Files

Letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi on Humanitarian Assistance.pdf (340.7 KBs)
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