Christians urge US and UK to take more Iraqi refugees

By staff writers
March 26, 2007

Christians have given evidence to the United Nations concerning the estimated two million refugees that have fled Iraq since the invasion in 2003, urging Britain and US to open their doors to them.

There call came in an oral statement delivered on Friday, at the session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in Geneva.

An estimated 100,000 Iraqis leave their country each month, including many of Iraq’s best-educated professionals.

Approximately 2,000,000 Iraqis have fled since the 2003 invasion and about 1,800,000 Iraqis are internally displaced. The UK has only accepted a few hundred.

The statement was given by Dominicans for Justice and Peace, Pax Christi International and 4 more partner organizations.

"The humanitarian needs of these people are extreme and urgent" there statement said. "An immediate response to the humanitarian crisis is required to attend to the basic needs of those have left their homes because of the ongoing war in their country.

"Furthermore,,current refugee assistance and support for the internally displaced are extremely under-funded. Middle Eastern countries, including Syria and Jordan have shown openness in welcoming the refugees. As the numbers have increased, the overburdened public services of the host countries are becoming overwhelmed by the increased refugee population.

According to UNHCR estimates, Syria has taken in 1,000,000 Iraqis, Jordan, 750,000, Egypt, 80,000-130,000. The US Administration announced on February 15, 2007 that it would grant asylum for up to 7000 refugees over the next year.

The groups recommended that the international community, through the United Nations, "open their doors to the Iraqis as they seek safety and security for their families." But it also asked that the UN refugee services "seek support from the international community so that basic services are provided for the Iraqis who have been displaced and are living in other regions of Iraq."

Last week, co-director of the religious thinktank Ekklesia Jonathan Bartley, told BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show that it was a moral imperative for Britain to accept responsibility for Iraqi regugees.

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