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Rep. Waters Leads Letter to Bush Expressing Concern Over Plight of Displaced Iraqis

July 30, 2009
Press Release

Today, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-35) sent a letter to President Bush expressing deep concern over the plight of displaced Iraqis.  The letter was led by Rep. Maxine Waters, Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton, Foreign Affairs Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee Chairman Gary Ackerman, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe Chairman Alcee Hastings, Representatives Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey, and was signed by 83 other Members of Congress from both political parties.

Rep. Waters said, "This letter sends a strong message that Congress is committed to addressing the humanitarian crisis confronting Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons.  The displacement crisis will get worse if ignored and we look forward to the President's support as we work to address this issue."

The text of the letter is as follows:

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to express our deep concern over the plight of displaced Iraqis.  Rarely does confronting a crisis align our moral and national security interests as closely as does providing assistance to the Iraqis displaced by violence.  There are few more important tests of our foreign policy than our leadership in response to the growing crisis confronting the displaced population of Iraq.

Recent reports suggest that upwards of 14% of the population of Iraq is displaced; 2.4 million Iraqis are internally displaced, while nearly that many refugees have fled to neighboring countries.  Their conditions are increasingly desperate as they lack access to employment, health care, or schools.  Experts suggest that if the international community does not step in to help, the role of "protector and provider" may be provided by sectarian actors in the pattern of Hamas or Hezbollah.

As you know, failure to adequately confront the humanitarian crisis radiating from Iraq may spell disaster for the region.  An aggressive effort to develop sustainable, long-term strategies to address the displaced population is badly needed.  We commend your recent appointment of Ambassador James Foley as the Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons as an indication of your commitment to this issue.
 
As such, we welcome your response to the following pressing questions related to the future of the displaced Iraqi population, and request a briefing on the subject from a relevant Administration official:

What is the long term strategy for handling the eventual return or resettlement of refugees and internally displaced Iraqis?
How does the plan address issues of repatriation, resettlement and return of displaced Iraqis?  Is there a mechanism for settling property disputes in Iraq?
What is the current capacity of the Government of Iraq— particularly the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration— to handle these issues from a financial, political and planning perspective?
To what extent are we coordinating with the Government of Iraq and regional refugee-hosting countries on this issue?

The non-partisan Congressional Research Service said "The impact of this level of displacement— which is the largest in the Middle East since 1948— cannot be underestimated in terms of its impact on regional stability and the potential for humanitarian suffering."  We look forward to working with you in the coming months to ensure the world's utmost attention to the problems facing the Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons.  Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Maxine Waters                    Ike Skelton
Gary L. Ackerman              Alcee L. Hastings
Barbara Lee                        Lynn C. Woolsey
Brian Baird                         Tammy Baldwin
Shelley Berkley                  Howard L. Berman
Sen. Bernard Sanders         Timothy H. Bishop
Earl Blumenauer                G. K. Butterfield
Madeleine Z. Bordallo        Leonard L. Boswell
Lois Capps                        Michael E. Capuano
Wm. Lacy Clay                   John Conyers, Jr.
Joseph Crowley                  Joe Courtney
Elijah E. Cummings           Danny K. Davis
Susan A. Davis                   Jim McDermott
Peter A. DeFazio                William D. Delahunt
Rosa L. DeLauro                Lloyd Doggett
Michael F. Doyle               Keith Ellison
Sam Farr                           Chaka Fattah
Bob Filner                         Barney Frank
Trent Franks                     Raúl M. Grijalva
Maurice D. Hinchey          Mazie K. Hirono
Rush D. Holt                     Chris Van Hollen
Michael M. Honda             Steve Israel
Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.           Sheila Jackson Lee
William J. Jefferson           Henry C. Johnson
Carolyn C. Kilpatrick        Dennis J. Kucinich
James R. Langevin            John B. Larson
John Lewis                       Zoe Lofgren
Steven F. Lynch               Carolyn B. Maloney
Edward J. Markey             James P. McGovern
Gwen Moore                    James P. Moran
Jerrold Nadler                 Grace F. Napolitano
Eleanor Holmes Norton   John W. Olver
James L. Oberstar           Ed Pastor
Donald M. Payne             Ed Perlmutter
Joseph R. Pitts                Carol Shea-Porter
David E. Price                 David G. Reichert
Silvestre Reyes               Steven R. Rothman
Bobby L. Rush                Linda T. Sánchez
Janice D. Schakowsky    John P. Sarbanes
Robert C. Scott              Christopher Shays
Albio Sires                     Adam Smith
Fortney "Pete" Stark       Betty Sutton
Ellen O. Tauscher          Edolphus Towns
Peter Welch                   Robert Wexler
Albert Russell Wynn

 

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