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Postcards and Buttons Aid Effort
Dominicans Put Pressure on Congress to Relieve the Iraq Refugee Crisis

postcard artFOREST PARK, IL -- March 31, 2008 Dominican Sisters from across the country will be represented in Washington, DC April 15-17 to urgently call on Congress to immediately improve US efforts to resettle Iraqi refugees.  In 2007 the United States fell far short of its promise to permanently resettle 7,000 Iraqis and already the promise to resettle 12,000 Iraqis in 2008 is showing a dismally slow start.  Approximately 2,500 of the promised 7,000 were resettled in 2007. 

“We are going to Washington, D.C. to demand a response to those displaced by this five year war,” said Sr. Dusty Farnan, OP (Adrian) North American Promoter of Justice and Peace.  “We will meet with our congressional members to express the truth that the life and dignity of every human person is sacred and is the foundation of a moral vision for society. The sanctity of human life is under direct attack as a result of this war.”

Dominican Congregations who will be represented in Washington, DC include Amityville, Caldwell, San Rafael, Mission San Jose, Sinsinawa, Springfield, Mosul Iraq, Adrian, Blauvelt, Grand Rapids, Sparkill, Columbus, and Racine.

"Everyday I hear the stories of refugees whose families have been torn apart by violence and displacement," said Sr. Beth Murphy, OP, (Springfield) Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Detroit Refugee Services office. "These families' dreams and hopes for a happy future for their children are not worth less than the dreams and hopes of American families. The terrible reality of this war is that it is putting at risk the futures of millions of children, in Iraq, in the United States, and around the world." 

Unless the U.S. Government moves fast to address the already grave Iraqi displacement crisis, Iraqi civilians will be at even greater risk, with serious consequences for the entire region, according to EPIC (Education for Peace in Iraq Center). While Iraq and neighboring countries face the worst humanitarian crisis in Iraq's history, including the displacement of more than 4 million people, U.S. and international assistance remains woefully inadequate. 

Refugee Movement Map

The Iraqi refugee crisis is the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. - AFSC March 2008

"It’s a nightmare for those who need to relocate for their own safety," said Sr. Marcelline Koch, OP, (Springfield) Justice and Peace Promoter. Bureaucratic red tape is keeping thousands of Iraqis from being able to relocate into the United States.  True to the promise, our government needs to improve the current system of refugee processing that isn’t working fast enough."

Responding to the grave humanitarian crisis and the escalation in the violence facing the people of Iraq, the Dominican Sisters will join representatives from EPIC (Education for Peace in Iraq Center) and specifically call for action by Congress to:

  • Strengthen humanitarian assistance to the region by providing increased funding to international organizations and non-governmental organizations providing essential humanitarian aid to internally displaced Iraqis and Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries.  Also provide additional bilateral assistance to refugee hosting countries to help their national systems expand to accommodate refugee needs and to ease the strains on local communities.
  • Increase support for reconciliation, recovery and community-based development in Iraq.
  • Improve U.S. admissions and resettlement of especially vulnerable refugees from Iraq by becoming the global leader in resettling displaced Iraqis in an expedient manner, giving priority to the most vulnerable cases in accordance with UNHCR guidelines.

"The Iraq war is an unqualified moral disaster that affects the lives of 26 million Iraqis, over half of whom are under the age of 18,” said Sister Beth Murphy. "It is also an economic disaster for the U.S. Analysts estimate that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will have cost three trillion dollars by the end of fiscal year 2008 while the U.S. housing market is at a dangerous, historic low. The popular myth is that a war economy is good for everyone, but it is costing the average U.S. household just under $5,000, at $341.4 million dollars a day, while families continue to struggle, medical insurance costs soar, and schools are underfunded.  That's why it matters that we use our voices in Washington to speak for the ones who suffer the most: Iraqi citizens, U.S. soldiers and their families, and the children, the elderly, and the most vulnerable members of our own society."

Dominicans have been deeply and profoundly committed to action on behalf of Iraq since the days of Sanction in the 1990’s, and are calling on everyone to support the cause and keep the plight of Iraqi refuges in the public spotlight.

“The Dominican Family in North America is urging everyone to join in our efforts.  We’re launching a new awareness button campaign,” Sister Dusty said.  “We’re encouraging everyone to wear the: ‘I have Family in Iraq: 4 Million Displaced Iraqi’s 2003-2008’ button. This button communicates our concern for the displaced people of Iraq.  We will give a button to the legislators as a reminder to keep their promise to the Iraqi refugees.”

For more information on how you can participate or help, logon to www.iraqactiondays.org.  Organizers are encouraging everyone to come to Washington DC and take part in the event.

by Nathan Mihelich
Communications Director
Dominican Sisters of Springfield

“The people of Iraq are facing one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time. Millions of Iraqis have been uprooted by violence. Families like ours need food, medicine and shelter.”

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