July 20, 2007
Walk for Iraq
On behalf of Refugees International (RI), I would like to thank you and your fellow organizers for selecting RI as the charity to receive funds raised through the Walk for Iraq in New Zealand. We appreciate this effort to help raise awareness and support for the millions of displaced Iraqis.
As you know, Iraqis are now the world’s fastest growing displacement crisis – some 2.4 million Iraqis have fled, settling mostly in Syria and Jordan. Lebanon, Egypt, Iran and also have absorbed significant numbers. Another 2 million Iraqis are displaced within the borders of Iraq, meaning a total of 4.4 million Iraqis are estimated to have been forced from their homes. And these numbers will likely continue to grow as violence in Iraq shows no sign of diminishing.
Before Refugees International released its first field report in December 2006, this crisis had been largely ignored. Our report generated extensive media coverage around the world and we brought to light the desperate state that most Iraqi refugees were living in – without access to jobs and in urgent need of assistance with housing, health care and education. As a result of our advocacy, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) increased its budget for the area to $123 million. The U.S. government also announced additional funding for Iraqi refugees and a program to resettle 7,000 Iraqis in the next year. But despite these successes, the international response has barely scratched the surface of this crisis. Refugee needs continue to grow, but the reaction is still slow and insufficient. Adequate resources have yet to materialize.
Refugees International is a small, flexible, effective organization. With a budget of only $3.4 million, we help generate millions of dollars worth of assistance for the 34.5 million displaced people around the world. In order to maintain our independence, and thus our credibility, we do not accept any government or United Nations funding. We rely instead on the commitment of individuals like yourselves—those who are determined to make a difference and help improve the lives of others who are in desperate circumstances. Your generous contribution will go directly towards helping RI do just that in our work for Iraq refugees. Again, thank you for your interest, and for your support.
Kenneth H. Bacon
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