Tue, 09/02/2008 - 01:00
Dear Chairman Biden and Ranking Member Lugar, Subcommittee Chairman Kerry and Ranking Member Coleman:
We write to once again draw your attention to the Iraqi humanitarian crisis and the urgent need for a comprehensive United States response to the humanitarian and protection needs of Iraq’s extremely vulnerable citizens, especially those who have been displaced. Over four million Iraqis have been forced from their homes due to the intense violence in their country, with nearly half seeking refuge in neighboring countries and half displaced in different governorates inside Iraq. Many others in Iraq have been unable to flee and are also at risk and in serious need of international assistance. Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan and throughout the region have urgent humanitarian needs that are going unmet. The United States, through Congressional leadership, has improved its response to the needs of vulnerable Iraqis, through an increase in humanitarian funding and an increase in the refugee resettlement program, yet more still needs to be done.
Specifically, we strongly believe the United States government must develop and implement a wide-ranging response strategy that looks at the Iraqi humanitarian crisis, particularly the displacement, in a holistic way and allows for a sustained response over an extended period of time. In that regard, we would respectfully request that the Committee on Foreign Relations hold a hearing during the remaining time of the 110th session of Congress to assess the continuing needs of vulnerable Iraqis and to investigate alternatives for a comprehensive response.
A hearing in the Foreign Relations committee could look at the recent wide-ranging proposal put forth by Ambassador Frank Wisner, endorsed by many of the signers to this letter, and legislation introduced by Senator Kennedy that would create a special coordinator for the Iraqi displacement crisis in the White House. We believe that these are just two of many potential ways that the United States can improve its response to the Iraqi humanitarian crisis, and would strongly urge the Foreign Relations committee to take them into consideration.
We thank you for your leadership on this important matter, and look forward to working with your committee on this extremely important matter,
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge
Catholic Relief Services
The Center for Victims of Torture
EPIC – USA
The Episcopal Church
International Medical Corps
International Rescue Committee
International Relief and Development
Jubilee Campaigns USA
LIFE for Relief and Development
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services
Mandaean Associations Union
Open Society Policy Center
Save the Children
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children