Saturday, July 24, 2010

No Way Home, No Way to Escape:

The Plight of Iraqi Refugees and Our Iraqi Allies

July 22, 2010 - 385 Russell Senate Office Building Unofficial Transcript

Refugees International Warns U.S. Must Not Shirk Humanitarian Responsibilities as Military Departs Iraq

07/22/2010 Refugees International President L. Craig Johnstone today called for a greater U.S. commitment to more than two million Iraqis who have fled their homes due to conflict and fear of persecution during seven years of U.S. engagement in Iraq.

“As the U.S. military departs Iraq it is leaving behind nearly 500,000 Iraqi refugees – mainly in Syria and Jordan – and one and a half million Iraqis who have been uprooted from their homes, many of whom live in total destitution in shanty towns of Iraq,” said L. Craig Johnstone, President of Refugees International. “This is the tragic legacy of the conflict in Iraq and as the United States disengages militarily it would be unconscionable to abandon our responsibilities to these civilian victims of war.”

Ambassador Johnstone testified at a Helsinki Commission hearing, “No Way Home, No Way to Escape: The Plight of Iraqi Refugees and Our Iraqi Allies.” Johnstone is former Deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and former U.S. Ambassador and Director for Resources, Plans and Policy in the Department of State. Recalling his own experiences in Vietnam, he called on Congress and the Administration to step up to its commitment to Iraqi refugees, as it did after the fall of Saigon. Continued

Statement of Sean Callahan, Vice President of Operations, Catholic Relief Services before United States Helsinki Commission hearing on "No Way Home, No Way to Escape: The Plight of Iraqi Refugees and our Iraqi Allies"

July 22, 2010

Chairman Cardin, Chairman Hastings, thank you for your continued commitment to Iraqi refugees and for holding this hearing today. Catholic Relief Services is pleased to offer this testimony on the urgent matter of Iraqi refugees in the Middle East. My name is Sean Callahan, and I am the Executive Vice President for Overseas Operations of CRS. Operating in more than 100 countries around the world, CRS is the international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, representing the nearly 70 million members of the U.S. Catholic community. In my testimony today, I will present the urgent humanitarian needs on the ground for Iraqi refugees based on CRS' work in the Middle East; highlight the special security concerns for Christians and other minorities in Iraq as the U.S. begins to withdraw troops; and urge the U.S. government to develop a comprehensive plan for a durable solution for all Iraqi refugees and IDPs.

The magnitude of the Iraqi refugee crisis cannot be overstated. It remains one of the most urgent global humanitarian crises, with Iraqis representing one of the largest displaced populations in the world in an insecure region. Nearly 2 million refugees have fled Iraq, and nearly as many remain displaced within the country. As the U.S. prepares to withdraw many of our troops, we must recommit ourselves to responding to this humanitarian crisis. Continued

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