Casey, Cardin Introduce Bill to Help Displaced Iraqis

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced legislation that would require the Secretary of State to develop a comprehensive regional strategy to address the mass displacement of Iraqis.   To date, Congress has not passed any significant legislation addressing the needs of millions of Iraqis who have been forced to flee from their homes.

“The Bush Administration lacks a comprehensive regional strategy to address the mass influx of Iraqi refugees into neighboring countries,” said Senator Casey.  “We have a moral responsibility to help the millions of Iraqis who have been displaced from their homes.  It is my hope that this bill will take the necessary first steps to develop a long-term strategy to address the needs of vulnerable Iraqis.”

“The lack of planning on the part of this administration and the absence of any long-term comprehensive plan to deal with refugees, threatens to destabilize the entire region and undermine security in Iraq,” said Senator Cardin. “We must act quickly and coherently. Too many of the 4.7 million displaced Iraqis remain stranded, jobless, and deprived of essential services with their conditions worsening by the day.”

The Support for Vulnerable and Displaced Iraqis Act of 2008 would:

Address the serious challenges facing Iraqi refugees, including: lack of legal status; inadequate U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and nongovernmental organizations resources; limited access to education and healthcare; critical food shortages; and inadequate shelter, drinking water, sanitation and protection;

Address the responsibility of the Government of Iraq to help meet the urgent needs of its citizens in Iraq and in the region and steps the United States can take to provide support in this area;
Include an assessment of needs of vulnerable Iraqis in Iraq and an estimate of assistance required in order for the United States to help meet these needs; 

Include the number of refugees from Iraq the United States plans to resettle in the United States; 

Include an assessment of what conditions are necessary for the voluntary, safe, sustainable return of displaced Iraqis;
Include a description of the steps the U.S. Government has taken and will take to engage the international community to implement the strategy; and 

Include plans to assess the impact of the strategy.  

Since the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003, it is estimated that as many as two million Iraqis have fled their homes to neighboring countries to avoid sectarian and other violence while over 2.7 million have been displaced internally in Iraq.  The massive displacement of Iraqis in Iraq and the region has overwhelmed existing social, economic, and security capacities of countries in the region, particularly Iraq, Jordan and Syria.  Increasing poverty and despair among displaced populations may provide fertile ground for possible recruitment by extremist groups.





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