Iraq's Humanitarian Crisis (Rep. Alcee Hastings)

Whether you agree or disagree with U.S. policy on Iraq, one thing is crystal clear: we have a humanitarian crisis manifesting in the region that cannot be ignored.  While the United States has been working to address this dire situation, not nearly enough is being done. The United States has a moral obligation to make a serious commitment to help Iraq's refugees and internally displaced populations.

As Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and Special Representative on Mediterranean Affairs for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, I introduced the Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Security Act of 2007.  My legislation addresses the impending humanitarian crisis and security breakdown as a result of the mass influx of Iraqi refugees into neighboring countries, and the growing internally displaced populations in Iraq, by increasing direct accountable assistance to these populations and their host countries, increasing border security, and facilitating the resettlement of Iraqis at risk.

In August, I wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice highlighting the need for the United States to address this devastating situation with strong financial support, either through bilateral assistance to host countries or funding for international organizations that are working directly with the refugee and internally displaced populations. In response to my letter, on September 7, I along with Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and Commissioner Congressman Joseph R. Pitts (R-Pa.), received a briefing by Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) Ellen Sauerbrey, who had recently returned from the region.  It was clear from our discussion that the United States must do more.

This was highlighted in a Washington Post article on September 17, entitled “Crocker Blasts Refugee Process,