Secretary of State Eric Schwartz Assistant for Population, Refugees, and Migration today reported on his trip to Iraq. Mr. Schwartz stressed that the United States is deeply engaged in a broad range of efforts to support displaced Iraqis.
“The U.S. Government also help promote conditions for voluntary return and reintegration of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).” -Mr. Schwartz
He said the United States is also increasing support for the local integration of IDPs where that solution is most appropriate. The U.S. government provided $310 million in humanitarian assistance for Iraqi refugees, IDPs and conflict victims and in 2011 we intend to maintain a similar level in 2010.
“During my visit, I met with senior Iraqi government officials, representatives of UN agencies and NGOs, as well as with IDPs. I also traveled with our Ambassador, James Jeffrey, to Diyala province to visit with Iraqis who have returned to the province and to see their new homes – many of which were built by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the support of the U.S. government.” – Mr. Schwartz
According to Mr. Schwatz, he visited the Um Al Banee IDP settlement in Baghdad, where the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is providing assistance to 112 families who are living in very difficult conditions on government land, without easy access to water and sanitation, or to employment.
In his meetings with Iraqi officials, he emphasized three key points: the importance of making local integration a viable option for IDPs who cannot return to their areas of origin; the need for increased Iraqi government engagement with and support for return of its citizens who are living as refugees in the region; and the positive impact that appointing a National Coordinator on Refugees and IDPs within the Iraqi government could have in mobilizing relevant ministries and resources to address the diverse needs of Iraq’s displaced.
He stressed that Iraqi officials acknowledged that support for the displaced is an investment in Iraq’s long term stability and development. He added that the Ministry of Migration and Displacement has developed a draft national strategy on displacement which envisions support for local integration.
“But much more needs to be done on the three priorities outlined above. As I confirmed to my interlocutors, the U.S. government remains committed to sustained engagement on the issue.” – Mr. Schwartz
He emphasized that the U.S. Government is looking forward to working with the Government and people of Iraq on initiatives to support displaced citizens and facilitate their reintegration into stable local communities.
“All Iraqis benefit from the contributions that the formerly displaced make to their country as they seek to rebuild and prosper once again.” -Mr. Schwartz