World Refugee Day: €“ A New Home, A New Life for Iraqi Refugees

June 20, 2007

The foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the foreigner as yourself.-- Leviticus 19:34

Every year on June 20 the world recognizes and honors the courage and strength of refugees. World Refugee Day was designated by the United Nations to focus world-wide attention on the plight of refugees, their will to survive, and on the contributions they make in their new communities.

Iraq is now home to one of the world’s largest populations of internally displaced persons. The UN reports that every day 2,000 Iraqis are displaced. There are over 2 million Iraqi refugees and many are in imminent danger, particularly because they are a targeted religious minority or are associated with the U.S. involvement in Iraq. The continuing war in Iraq has brought much pain and suffering to Iraqis and to our military – this is a bipartisan effort that directly addresses one aspect of the painful consequences of the conflict.

What the US Can Do
The United States resettles more refugees than any other country in the world. Still, the total number resettled is just a fraction of all refugees. What is really troubling is that the U.S. did not even come close to reaching the government ceiling set for total refugee admissions during the last two years. When refugee admission numbers are not fully used in any fiscal year, opportunities to rescue desperate persons are lost. Presently, we are faced with a crisis for Iraqi refugees that must be addressed by our Congress.

Speak Out
Today, Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) introduced the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act calling on the U.S. government to offer resettlement to at-risk persons in Iraq and the surrounding region.

Click here to contact your Senators and urge them to support the Kennedy-Smith bill that recognizes the United States has an obligation to bring relief to Iraqis seeking refuge.

Refugee Resettlement and the Episcopal Church
Migration Ministries (EMM) is the Church’s resettlement program that has provided an array of services to refugees for over 60 years. EMM expects to assist a number of Iraqi refugees who have no hope of returning to Iraq with resettlement in the coming months. You can add your voice to this urgent cause by contacting your Senators and urging them to support a US commitment to assist Iraqi refugees.