After the bombing of the Samarra mosque northwest of Baghdad in 2006, a massive exodus and displacement of Iraqis began. Refugees International called it, “the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.” Millions of Iraqi men, women and children fled their homes and country to escape the violence in a nation increasingly at war with itself. They had no refugee camps to go to, where stark television images might have alerted the world to their plight; they were hiding in the slums of urban areas, nearly invisible.
The U.S. couldn’t have solved this problem alone, but we had a responsibility to do more than we did to prevent further destabilization of the region, relieve suffering and save lives.
Many of us tried to do more. We organized a hearing
to bring Iraqis before Congress. They told chilling stories about being targeted by sectarian death squads because of their faith or their association with the United States. We passed the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act
to increase the number of Iraqis who could be resettled in this country. We also provided hundreds of millions of dollars to help Iraqi refugees obtain food, education, shelter and health care.
Now as the White House prepares a new policy on Iraq, President Obama’s leadership on this issue is essential. We should continue to support Iraqi refugees as they struggle to survive in neighboring countries. We should press Iraq’s leaders to meet its responsibilities to its own people, and increase resettlement assistance for those who will never be able to return home. Most important, we must work with Iraq’s neighbors to guarantee that no refugees will be forced to go back to Iraq until conditions are safe enough for them to do so voluntarily.
Now, as Refugees International celebrates its 30th Anniversary, the organization is working hard to make sure that America meets these challenges
. Refugees International is indispensable in helping Congress understand what must be done to end refugee crises around the world.
For thirty years
, the organization has pressed the House and Senate to respond to the needs of millions of refugees and displaced people from places as diverse as Iraq, Kosovo, Rwanda and Cambodia. Refugees International has spent the last thirty years making the world more peaceful and prosperous. In doing so, it has reminded us all of our shared sense of humanity.
February 09, 2009
| Tagged as: Anniversary Blogger Series, Congress, Iraq