Iraqi Humanitarian Crisis Needs Urgent International Action

  • 26 April 2007

Iraq’s refugee crisis is considered the most alarming predicament facing the troubled country. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) states that about four million Iraqis have been displaced since the war began in 2003, and estimates that about 50,000 Iraqis are currently fleeing from the sectarian violence and terrorist attacks in their country every month.

In recent months, various international organizations have issued several warnings against the escalation of the crisis, as several countries providing shelter and assistance to Iraqi refugees are finding it difficult to absorb the steady influx. Amnesty International has called upon the international community, especially the United States and Europe, to take urgent and concrete action for confronting the crisis, and has concluded that the Middle East is at the brink of a major humanitarian crisis. In the same context, the United Nations has stated that billions of dollars worth of aid would be needed for providing assistance to Iraqi refugees. Therefore, starting on Tuesday, the UN convened an international conference in Geneva in which 60 countries deliberated over providing financial assistance and support for Iraqi refugees.

As the situation worsens for the millions of internally and externally displaced Iraqis, there is need for earnest and effective international action to address this alarming humanitarian situation, which is exacerbating the deteriorating security condition in Iraq. The recent calls issued by various humanitarian organizations should resonate throughout the world. If the world is unable to restore peace and security in Iraq for whatever reasons, it is demanded that it at least prevent a humanitarian crisis resulting from the situation. Such an action would not involve any political costs, but would only provide financial assistance to countries hosting the refugees and to those humanitarian organizations providing care and assistance to them. The aid would help in providing a decent life for the refugees and prevent them from fleeing the dread of terrorism and slaughter, only to face hunger, disease, and homelessness.

Although Iraqi refugees living abroad are presently in the spotlight, equal attention should be given to those Iraqis displaced within the country, which Amnesty International estimates to be as many as two million. Working for the refugees displaced within Iraq is a difficult proposition. The deteriorating security situation in the country prevents concerned humanitarian organizations from functioning inside Iraq. However, this should not be an excuse for ignoring the plight of the internally displaced refugees, because the problem they are confronting is even more acute and terrible.