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Iraqi Refugees

Since the war in Iraq began in 2003, millions of Iraqis have been displaced and forced to flee their homes, both within Iraq and to neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Because these countries are not signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Iraqi refugees are not afforded the protection and basic human rights of most refugees in other countries. Thus, a majority of Iraqi refugees cannot legally work and lack access to basic health, social services and education.

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As a result many Iraqi refugees are destitute. They have depleted all of their savings after several years in exile. Many suffer from debilitating illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney problems and cancer with limited or no access to health care. Iraqi refugees traumatized by war and civil strife are also not receiving the adequate mental health care they need.

CRS Policy Position

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) calls on the U.S. government to:

  1. Provide generous funding for urgently needed support programs.
    • Generously support United Nations (U.N.) agencies, international organizations and Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs) as they provide humanitarian assistance to displaced Iraqis by providing no less than 50 percent of the U.N. appeals.
    • Support continued assistance for global refugee programs through the annual appropriations process, including a significant allocation to meet the needs of Iraqi refugees.
    • Provide bilateral economic support funding to the governments of Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt to ease the burden placed on host governments with large refugee populations.
  2. Resettle Iraqi refugees in the United States.
    • Resettle at least 40,000 Iraqis in the United States in the current fiscal year and expedite the processing of referrals.
  3. Ensure passage of specific legislation.
    • Support H.R.578, the Iraqi Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement, and Security Act of 2009, sponsored by Rep. Alcee Hastings and Rep. John Dingell. Among other important provisions, H.R. 578 authorizes funding to assist Iraqi refugees and increases refugee admission limitations to admit more Iraqi refugees into the United States.
  4. Develop comprehensive and coordinated approach to assist Iraqi refugees.
    • We urge the Obama administration to develop a comprehensive and coordinated approach to assisting the millions of displaced Iraqis.

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