On World Refugee Day, Congress must remember the needs of refugees, urges NGO alliance

Syria, June 20, 2013

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Mercy Corps and colleague organizations encourage necessary funding to support those displaced by Syria crisis and others around the world

WASHINGTON (June 20, 2013) – Today is World Refugee Day, but there is little cause for celebration as the UN Refugee Agency estimates the number of forcibly displaced people to be the highest in nearly two decades, totaling 45.2 million people.

An increasingly large number of these new refugees and internally displaced people are fleeing the extreme and seemingly endless violence in Syria. Day by day, the scale of refugee outflow is eroding the welcome of neighboring countries, where the refugees have sought protection. This strain threatens to further destabilize a volatile region by overburdening the limited economic, social and natural resources of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.

With the scale of displacement in mind, NGO alliance InterAction and its members ask that lawmakers in the United States continue their historic support of refugees when appropriating the budget for fiscal year 2014:

  • Congress should fund the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account, responsible for both non-food assistance in Syria and the Emergency Food Security Program, at $1.6 billion for fiscal year 2014. Robust IDA funding is fundamental to maintaining a strong response within Syria, which continues to be one of the most costly crises in history.
  • Congress should support no less than $2.8 billion for Migration and Refugee Assistance and no less than $250 million for Emergency Migration and Refugee Assistance in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.

These funds will allow the U.S. to alleviate the extreme suffering of refugees and provide protection to the most vulnerable among them.

As catastrophic as the Syria crisis is, it should not lead us to forget the millions of refugees around the world caught in crises that have long since disappeared from the nightly news. The hundreds of thousands of people still fleeing conflicts in Mali, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are now less visible, but still require our support until they can start new lives. To this day, millions of Afghans remain vulnerable outside their home country. The Rohingya minority in Myanmar has been forced to flee violence, while continuing to be denied citizenship. The plight of these refugees and internally displaced people tends to be lost as the world directs its attention to the major crisis of the moment.

On World Refugee Day, however, we must to ensure that we are seeing the challenges in their totality and responding with the requisite concern and assistance.

Sue Pleming: 202.552.6561 or 202.341.3814 (Cell) or spleming@interaction.org
Jeanne Paradis: 202.552.6535 or 202.297.1696 (Cell) or jparadis@interaction.org

Additional Resources

About Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps helps people turn the crises they confront into the opportunities they deserve. Driven by local needs, our programs provide communities in the world’s toughest places with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives. Our worldwide team in 40 countries is improving the lives of 19 million people.

About InterAction:InterAction is the largest alliance of U.S.-based nongovernmental international organizations, with more than 180 members. Our members operate in every developing country, working with local communities to overcome poverty and suffering by helping to improve their quality of life. Visit www.interaction.org.