With the war in Iraq having begun, this is a dangerous moment for every citizen of the world. The primary role of humanitarian agencies at such moments is to take action to relieve human suffering. As the U.S. and Iraq moved towards this conflict, Refugees International has been advocating the following measures, which, if taken by the U.S. government, would strengthen considerably the ability of the humanitarian agencies to perform their life-saving mission on behalf of Iraqi civilians:
- Provide the funding necessary to enable
the Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World
Food Program to respond to a potential humanitarian emergency and urge
other donor nations to make similar contributions.
- Provide immediate additional funding
to the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF, and NGOs to position
medical and therapeutic feeding supplies in the region.
- Adhere to international humanitarian
law, using "the fullest extent of the means available" to ensure
that the civilian population has access to food, medical care, and education
and to facilitate relief programs and the access of humanitarian personnel.
- Use diplomatic means, in coalition with
other countries, in support of UNHCR's efforts to negotiate unfettered
access to neighboring countries for Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers.
- Lift sanctions on humanitarian assistance
for Iraq as soon as areas of the country come under the control of U.S.
and coalition military forces.
- Give the United Nations responsibility for humanitarian coordination to ensure that the relief effort is independent and impartial.