Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Iraqi Refugee Crisis

Photo: Iraqi refugees from the violence-ridden Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, sit in their tent, provided by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society in the al-Husseiniya district of the capital city. Nine hundred families are currently staying in the tent city according to Red Crescent workers.(AFP/Ali al-Saadi)

Imagine living in a tent with no electricity and no water, with all these young children.

First, a story from an Iraqi refugee who lives and blogs from Amman:

A Blogger’s Report On Iraqi Child’s Medical Needs

The other issue that is hurting and worrying me that I do not sleep at night thinking about … there is an Iraqi child here, four years old, her name is "Eelaff", from Baquba. Her father called me asking for help; she has a malignant brain tumor, which was removed by an operation, and she is now undergoing chemical therapy… I went to visit her at Al-Hussein Cancer Center; I found her with a shaved head, or perhaps her hair fell off because of the chemical therapy, her face was pale. An innocent child of four years, what has she seen of life? I stood and put my hand over her head, reciting a verse from the Quran, or a prayer, I felt the high temperature of her body; she looked at me with withered eyes. Sorrow and sadness burned my heart for what befell her, what befell the children of Iraq because of this dirty war. I couldn't hold myself, and I burst into crying. Her father came to console me, and apologize…. I took some photos of her to send them to some friends, hoping that someone would take pity upon her and send some money to help her father pay her treatment fees. He said he needs some $1500 only to complete the treatment and get her out of hospital. I sent photos and hospital reports by e-mail, but nobody took the trouble to answer, not even with an apology….

You can click on the link to see the whole story. I am not sure if this is a child in Amman or in Iraq, and I am still trying to figure out a way to make a donation that is tax-deductible for this child. I also asked Faiza (the blogger) to contact Caritas about getting some help. Caritas is a Catholic relief agency, and I have read reports from Iraqi refugees that they have helped them. More information below on possible ways to help. Also, there is information on the May 12th post on Iraq Today about the soaring cancer rates in the south part of Iraq. It is shocking that there is so much cancer there, and so little treatment available.


According to The UN High Commissioner on Refugees, in terms of raw numbers, the nearly two-and-a-half million Iraqi refugees displaced because of the war is a bigger crisis than Darfur. It’s also the largest mass migration in the Middles east since the exodus of Palestinians from Israel in 1948. The vast majority of Iraqi refugees have fled to Syria and Jordan, further straining already overstretched infrastructures in two of the region's poorer countries. The result is inflated housing costs, scarce water resources and crowded public health facilities and schools. Well over a million Iraqis are internally displaced. According to The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that as many as a third of externally displaced refugees now outside Iraq is Christian. [And it really matters not what religion they may follow. They are in need of help. Call or write your congress person today and tell them to support the Responsibility to Iraqi Refugees Act. Or make a contribution to the International Rescue Committee or Direct Relief International or American Friends Service Committee or International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent or see below. – dancewater]


Very few organizations are working on getting aid to Iraqi refugees, and of those that are, many are too small or too beleaguered to accept individual donations; the Iraqi Red Crescent, for example, has suffered bombings and mass kidnappings, yet its volunteers continue to deliver aid to displaced families inside Iraq. One of the larger relief organizations working with the refugees is the Catholic group Caritas, whose caseworkers I shadowed while in Amman. Bucking the image of the Land Rover-driving aid worker, they made their rounds in an aging gray Honda, its roof eaten through by rust. They visited Iraqi doctors, engineers, and executives desperate for food, heat, or blankets to fend off the desert winter; one family told the crew they had just sold their stove to buy food. Caritas helps a few thousand families a year, but "the demand far outstrips the money available to us," says Magy Mahrous, who oversees the project.

You can make a contribution at: International Catholic Migration Commission, Citibank USA, 153 East 53rd Street, 16th floor, New York, NY 10043. To ensure that the money reaches the Iraqi program, write "Iraq-icmc" on your check.

ICRC Steps Up Humanitarian Response

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today asked donors for an additional 35 million Swiss francs to allow it to substantially expand its humanitarian work in Iraq. The additional funds requested will bring the organization's total budget for Iraq in 2007 to just over 91 million francs. It will continue to work closely with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society to meet the most urgent needs of the population. "This conflict is inflicting immense suffering on all Iraqis," said Béatrice Mégevand-Roggo, the ICRC's head of operations for the Middle East and North Africa. "People directly affected by the crisis are finding it increasingly difficult to cope. The ICRC is therefore stepping up its work to be able to better respond to needs throughout the country." It would focus on improving health care, the water supply and sanitation services, she added. Part of the funds requested will be used to help the growing numbers of internally displaced people, the communities who host them, and other vulnerable groups including the elderly, disabled people, orphans and female-headed households.

I hope you can join me in making a donation to one of the above charities to help the Iraqi refugees. We are, as Americans, responsible for what has happened to them. And we are responsible for what has happened in Iraq also, but we cannot help them at this point - it is too dangerous. But we can help these groups to help the refugees.


UPDATE: No More Victims is another great charity for helping Iraqi people. They are mainly bringing Iraqi children to the USA for medical treatment, but they have also sent medical supplies to Fallujah. Asheville is raising funds to help Rusul, an Iraqi child injured by US bombing. Please mark "Asheville" in the memo lines to help this project.

Another Update:

World Vision Press Center is also helping Iraqi Refugees

UPDATE - March 2008:

This organization is working on sending medical supplies to Basra. It is called Iraqi Health Now.

And the Vets for Peace an Iraq Water Project going. ‘It is a model for sustainable and independent life for the people of Iraq” – per their website. They build some water treatment plants before the war and occupation, and they are now working on getting water treatment to hospitals in Iraq.

Donations to either of the two above organizations are tax-deducible.

As are donations to the

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Go to the drop down menu (under “I would like my contribution to go to” and select “Iraq Humanitarian Response”) and to the American Friends Service Committee.

Please help!


John said...

Dear Dancewater,
If you find out anything about how to help Eelaff (tax-deductible or not, I don't care as long as I could be sure the money got to her family and not to some other person or group) please let me know at dziakj1@gmail.com - Thanks!

annie said...

thank you dancewater, i am keeping this link.