Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

U.S. says Iraq must take more responsibility for its refugees

A top U.S. State Department official spoke out against Iraq’s government on Wednesday, April 9th saying it needs to do more to help the country’s refugees, Reuters reported the same day.

Ambassador James Foley, the State Department’s senior coordinator for Iraqi refugee issues, also said that European nations should provide more help.

“The government of Iraq has increasing resources, which we believe need to go to meet Iraqi needs and responsibilities. That most certainly includes assistance to citizens who have had to flee the country and are living in neighboring countries,” said Foley.

In addition, he said that Arab nations also believe that Iraq needs to do more for its refugees. Since March 2003, over 2 million Iraqi refugees have entered other countries, where Foley said things are getting worse.

“There is an emerging trend of impoverishment [of Iraqi refugees] in the neighboring countries,” he said.

Foley said Washington has contributed more to the crisis than is typical in U.S. assistance efforts. However, many have been critical of the U.S. for being too slow in its acceptance of Iraqi refugees. September 30 will mark the last day for the U.S. to reach its stated goal of accepting 12,000 Iraqi refugees during the current fiscal year.

“It will be challenging,” Foley said of the goal.

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