September 24, 2007—The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children today called on the United States and the international community to respond quickly and fully to the United Nations interagency appeal for $85 million dollars to provide desperately needed health care for Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria and Egypt.
On a recent trip to Jordan, the Women’s Commission saw firsthand the urgent need for this assistance. Iraqi refugees have limited or no access to even basic health services. The cost of accessing health care is beyond the means of most refugees. At the time of our visit in June, there were only two clinics providing free or subsidized medical care to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Jordan.
The barriers to affordable health care have dire implications for Iraqi refugees. They are not getting the treatment they need for chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer and women and girls are not receiving critical reproductive health services. The longer this endures, the greater the number of lives at risk.
“The health situation for Iraqi refugees is unconscionable and women and children are in particular need given the vulnerability of their situation,” said Carolyn Makinson, Executive Director. “Iraqi women and children have suffered terrible trauma and violence – we have a responsibility to care for their health. The international community must act now to alleviate this situation.”
Iraqi women and girls’ health needs particular attention. In Iraq, women and girls have been targets of sexual violence, including rape. They are now suffering the double burden of the trauma they experienced and forced displacement from their homes. According to the refugees the Women’s Commission met with in Jordan, the stresses and pressures of refugee life are also causing a rise in domestic violence. And because refugees cannot legally work in Jordan, women and girls remain vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse. For all these reasons, women and girls must have easy and regular access to medical attention and psychological and social support services for survivors of rape and abuse.
In addition to fully supporting this new health appeal and an earlier education appeal, the U.S. government and international community must also develop a more comprehensive assistance strategy for Iraqi refugees that reflects the magnitude of the refugee crisis. This should include significantly increased humanitarian assistance for refugees, greater support for refugee receiving countries, and robust resettlement programs for highly vulnerable Iraqis.
“Iraqi refugees are becoming more vulnerable by the day,” Makinson said. “The time to act is now.”
For more information, to arrange an interview or to view B-roll footage, please contact Diana Quick, 212. 551. 3087, firstname.lastname@example.org
Related: Interview with Tobias Billström, Sweden’s Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, on how the EU needs to share the responsibility for providing safe haven to Iraqi refugees – and how aid must be allocated to Syria and Jordan, the two Middle Eastern nations with the highest influx of refugees:
Sometimes I think it is an irony that Sweden – a country that did not take part in the Iraq War, was not part of the alliance, did everything it could in order to speak for peace, and is farthest away from the conflict in geographical terms – receives the most refugees. To my mind that is rather strange.
In some ways we have made progress. But the next thing – and that is important – is to try and bring aid to Syria and to Jordan, the two countries in the region that have received a combined total of more than two million Iraqi refugees.
If we don’t do that, sooner or later there will be a political destabilisation of Syria and Jordan, which will lead to even more problems. We must ensure that the refugees receive aid and that they can sustain themselves.
x-posted @ Comments From Left Field
Jena, LA Mayor Murphy McMillin: not the sharpest fishhook in the tacklebox:
McMillin has insisted that his town is being unfairly portrayed as racist—an assertion the mayor repeated in an interview with Richard Barrett, the leader of the Nationalist Movement, a white supremacist group based in Learned, Miss., who asked McMillin to “set aside some place for those opposing the colored folks.”
“I am not endorsing any demonstrations, but I do appreciate what you are trying to do,” Barrett quoted McMillin as saying. “Your moral support means a lot.”
Oh, and remember when I predicted that the noose is going to experience a resurgence in iconic significance among the white power set? I can sure call ’em, sometimes. More details on the ongoing pushback are provided by David Neiwert (who also offers incontrovertible evidence that my old buddy John Gibson is indeed an odious sack of sea lion shit – if there was ever any doubt).
Very simply, the Jena Six is not a matter of guilt or innocence. If you think this case is about dancing and singing with Al Sharpton in Jena while wearing black, go home or bury some soap or something. If you view this case as a stepping stone for your own self-aggrandizement here there and everywhere, sit at home and think a few seconds before stepping back out again. If you think this case is only about freeing these young men, you’re half-steppin’. If you view the Jena Six incident as uppity newcomer Negroes wanting to start some ruckus, then please go back to your guard post under your bridge. Denial about a person’s criminal actions in a case is unwanted. This fight is not about what we can do to stop people from being criminals (though there’s no denying that goal is important); it is about what happens when those people are already within the criminal justice system and cannot afford an OJ-style legal Dream Team.
Kevin also points to this post by elle, phd, who notices history repeating in the predictably (and pathetically) defensive reaction of the (white) blogosphere after it was justifiably called out for collective indifference towards Jena (remember: Race is tough!).
Related: David Margolick looks back at Elizabeth Eckford, Hazel Bryan and the photo that captured what became an iconic moment in the civil rights movement.