What We Owe Iraq's Refugees

Friday, August 24, 2007

Having recently returned from interviewing Iraqi refugee families in Jordan, we applaud Michael Gerson's call for the United States to do more to help the more than 4 million Iraqis displaced by war ["Another Test in Iraq," op-ed, Aug. 22].

While the United States must mount a much more robust resettlement program for highly vulnerable Iraqis who may never be able to return home, most displaced Iraqis will not be resettled. Our government must provide significantly more humanitarian assistance for them and encourage other countries to help.

Iraqi refugees in Jordan are enduring increasingly desperate circumstances. They are not allowed to work, and they have little or no access to basic services, including health care and education. We met refugees who pleaded for help for their children who were suffering from easily treatable illnesses or, in some cases, life-threatening conditions. And because violence and torture -- increasingly used against women and girls -- are rampant in Iraq, many refugee families are traumatized and desperately need psychological care.

The United States should develop a comprehensive strategy for assistance to Iraqi refugees that reflects the magnitude of the crisis, the great strain on refugee-receiving countries and the special responsibility that the United States has to those fleeing this war.

SARAH CHYNOWETH

Program Manager, Reproductive Health

MEGAN McKENNA

Senior Coordinator, Media and

Communications

Women's Commission for

Refugee Women and Children

New York


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