WASHINGTON (September 12, 2007) – In a report released September 10, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urged the U.S. government to increase assistance and resettlement opportunities for refugees escaping violence in Iraq.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York, a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Migration, released the report during a briefing September 10, in Washington. Bishop DiMarzio headed a USCCB delegation to the Middle East to observe the plight of the Iraqi refugee population, July 1-13. The delegation included representatives from Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, also participated in the delegation.
"The situation of Iraqi refugees grows worse as each day passes," Bishop DiMarzio said. "What has not changed is that the international response to this crisis, and particularly that of the United States, remains woefully inadequate."
Bishop DiMarzio pointed to the slow processing of refugees for resettlement in the United States as an example of an inadequate response. While the U.S. government has pledged to process 7,000 refugees during the calendar year, slightly over 700 have arrived in the United States.
Anastasia Brown, Director of Refugee Programs for the USCCB, and a member of the delegation, also stated that more basic needs assistance is required for Iraqi refugees in host countries, such as Jordan and Syria. Increased funding to assist these countries would encourage them to continue to provide safe harbor to the 2.2 million Iraqi refugees in the Middle East.
Bishop DiMarzio added that the United States holds a "special responsibility" as leader of the coalition forces in Iraq to also be "a leader in the humanitarian response." Without U.S. leadership, other nations will not help and host governments could close their borders and deport Iraqis back to war-torn Iraq.
A copy of the report can be found on the USCCB website: