Friday, June 20, 2008

Remembering Iraq on World Refugee Day

On June 20th it is World Refugee Day [UNHCR]. Amnesty International are calling for notice to be given to the fact that there are now almost two million Iraqi refugees, fleeing murder, kidnap, torture and ill treatment, the majority of which are now living in Syria and Jordan. [Amnesty International]

They point out that international assistance for Iraqi refugees is desperately needed, due to inadequate contributions to UN agencies working with refugees. In May this year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) made a fresh appeal for increased funding for its Iraq work. Citing a shortfall of $127 million for assistance programmes, they raised the prospect of essential health and food assistance programs being reduced, which in turn may force many Iraqis into further destitution and increase the likelihood of higher malnutrition rates and increased child labour [UNHCR].

To end on a brighter note, Iraqi oud (lute) player Naseer Shamma has raised more than US$ 24,000 for UNHCR's Iraqi refugee programme with a concert at the Damascus Opera House [UNHCR].