Real Stability in Iraq Depends on U.S. Response to the Growing Iraqi Humanitarian Crisis

Forum provides the latest on-the-ground perspective of the crisis and what needs to be done

(Washington, DC) – Leading experts just back from Iraq and neighboring countries joined with hundreds of constituents from across the country to raise the urgency of the ongoing humanitarian in the region.

“On my recent trip to Iraq, it was completely clear and apparent that the country and the region are in the throes of a major humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of people – the UN is estimating over a million – do not even have access to clean water, food, or shelter – let alone adequate health services or educational opportunities,” said Heather Hanson, Director of Public Relations, Mercy Corps. “US officials need to recognize that real stability in Iraq and the region depends upon our capacity to work together with the international community and Iraqi partners to support programs that provide the required emergency life-saving assistance, lay the groundwork for long-term reconciliation and development, and prevent further displacement.”

“This is one of the fastest growing humanitarian crises in the world, yet the US response has been largely slow, meager and halfhearted,” says Bob Carey, Vice President of Resettlement Programs, International Rescue Committee and Chair of Refugee Council USA. “Displaced Iraqis are growing more traumatized, sick and destitute every day, yet find the prospect of returning home safely any time soon, unimaginable. The scale of the emergency requires a significant global response, but the US has a special responsibility to lead the way in aid and resettlement.”

“The people of Iraq and the United States are interconnected by the events over the past five years, and a growing number of Americans understand the need and obligation to help displaced Iraqis,” said Ken Bacon, President of Refugees International. “The U.S. should be the global leader in resettling the most vulnerable Iraqi refugees, but we are lagging behind other countries. Most disturbing, we are failing to help many Iraqis who risked their lives to support U.S. forces and help with American reconstruction plans.”

There was consensus that:

· Vulnerable Iraqis who are in Iraq or who have fled to neighboring countries are in immediate and urgent need of the most basic humanitarian assistance.

· The United States should strengthen support to non-governmental organizations assisting vulnerable Iraqis and should fund at least 50 percent of amounts requested in appeals from international organizations providing humanitarian support to Iraqis.

· There are many displaced Iraqis who will never be able to return home safely. The United States should expedite the resettlement of vulnerable Iraqis and vastly increase the number admitted.

· The United States should significantly increase humanitarian assistance to countries hosting Iraqi refugees to ease the strain on their national systems as well as press Iraq and other countries to also respond generously to meet these needs.

Participating organizations: InterAction, Refugee Council USA, Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC), International Rescue Committee, 3D Security Initiative, Amnesty International USA, Chaldean Federation of America, Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America, Church World Service, Center for Victims of Torture, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Human Rights First, International Medical Corps, Mandaean Associations Union, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Mercy Corps, NETWORK: a national Catholic Social Justice Lobby, North American Dominican Justice and Peace Promoters, Open Society Policy Center, Oxfam America, Refugees

International, Veterans for Common Sense, Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, and World Relief.