Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Promise of Freedom

I’ve written previously about Kirk Johnson and TLP and his efforts to help resettle Iraqi refugees in the U.S. here. These refugees are marked for helping the U.S. Government in Iraq. You can also read about the children of these resettled refugees here.

The video clip above, The Promise of Freedom is a feature documentary by Principle Pictures Production that exposes the long-term human consequences of war and raises questions about loyalty, betrayal, friendship, patriotism and the ability of America to uphold its own values. This project is supported by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.

In a related and hopeful development, AP reports earlier this month that the Bush administration said it could admit almost 8,000 more Iraqi refugees to the U.S., putting it within reach its goal of admitting 12,000 by the end of this fiscal year (September 2008). "We have a long way to go and we recognize that," said James Foley, the State Department's coordinator for Iraqi refugees. Foley was appointed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last year to streamline the admissions process and meet the goal of admitting 12,000 Iraqi refugees during the current budget year. Ambassador Foley said, "On paper, we feel pretty good that we can reach our goal," but cautioned that there was no guarantee that all would make it onto American soil by the deadline. The report concludes that “the rising numbers are the result of a push to improve the process by the departments of State and Homeland Security, which run the operation. Recent changes include improved access to refugees in Syria and the start of processing in Iraq itself. Before March, Iraqis had to apply outside their home country.” You can read the entire report by Matthew Lee here.

A notice released by the Department's PRM Bureau (Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration) on May 7 this year states that: Certain categories of Iraqis with U.S. affiliations may apply directly for consideration under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) in Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. Refugee processing inside Iraq will be limited by security and logistical constraints and the majority of Iraqis with U.S. affiliations are encourage to apply for USRAP consideration in Jordan or Egypt if possible. At the present time, [the] capacity to process Iraqi refugees for resettlement is much greater in Jordan and Egypt than in Iraq. Persons described in the specific categories (1-6) who believe they are at risk or have experienced serious harm as a result of association with the U.S. Government since March 20, 2003, and who wish to be considered for resettlement as refugees in the United States may contact the International Organization for Migration at the following addresses (sorry, I just fixed the email address links below on 8/7): Jordan - AmmanInfoCenter[at]iom[dot]int Egypt - CairoInfoCenter[at]iom[dot]int Iraq - BaghdadInfoCenter[at]iom[dot]int

Walter Pincus for WaPo (June 16, 2008; Page A17) details the slow resettlement of the refugees, and writes about Kirk Johnson talking about TLP recently in D.C. under the auspices of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, an independent, nonpartisan congressional entity. Part of this session was Ibrahim, one of the Iraqis, a former USAID employee who was resettled in the U.S. by TLP who was quoted by the report:

"Ibrahim said a new program, passed this year by Congress, opened up processing in Baghdad instead of requiring people to get to Syria or Jordan to be interviewed.

But, he added, the State Department coordinators in Baghdad are understaffed, don't have enough resources to process applications and require applicants to come inside the Green Zone -- though there are not enough staff members to escort them through checkpoints.

"This has led to a Catch-22. A mechanism for people to escape Iraq has been created, but only those with sufficient connections to enter the Green Zone can take advantage of it," he said."

And there it is - a feedback for Ambassador Foley to consider. The PRM Bureau says that "reflecting the best humanitarian traditions of the American people, the U.S. Government funds protection and life-sustaining relief for millions of refugees and victims of conflict around the globe." I only have one thing to add - these are our very own refugees. We must do this right or - we'll be forever known as the One who leave friends behind. Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Online Resources for Iraqi Refugees (external links to USG and NGO websites)

Fact Sheet on Expanded P-2 May 2008 (Word document) Fact Sheet –Refugee Resettlement, May 7, 2008 (Online)

General Factsheet Re: Iraqi Refugees (Word Document)

General Factsheet Re: Iraqi Refugees (Arabic translation) (Word document)

QA on SIV benefits for Iraqis and Afghans (Word document)

SIV Iraqi- Afghan Resettlement 2-08 (Word document)

Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters (Online)

PRM Letter Regarding I-130 P2 Program for Iraqi Refugees (Word document)

I-130 P2 Program FAQs (Word document)

Refugee Processing Center – FAQs (Online)

The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies/Kirk Johnson (Online)

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (Online)

Checkpoint One Foundation (Online)

Human Rights First (Online)

Refugees International (Online)

1 comment:

T. Greer said...

Wonderful Post. I linked to you here and have sent this to as many people as I can.

~T. Greer