World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization assisting families in Jordan, is calling for global action on behalf of young Iraqi refugees:
As violence in Iraq continues to add to the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East in half a century, World Vision has launched a combined advocacy and relief effort to assist children and families fleeing to neighboring countries. Some 2 million Iraqis have left their volatile homeland and many are struggling to cope without access to health care, legal employment or education for their children in host countries.
"This is largely a hidden crisis, but we want to help change that," says Joe Mettimano, director of public policy and advocacy for World Vision. "World Vision is calling on the international community to ensure adequate shelter, health care, education, and other critical services for these children, whose families are increasingly struggling to meet basic needs."
The Christian humanitarian organization will present detailed recommendations at the April 17-18 U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) conference in Geneva, including the following:
- Governments must provide full funding for the UN appeal and non-governmental organizations like World Vision to provide health care, education, food and household items, and social programs needed by Iraqi children and other vulnerable refugees.
- The international community must ensure basic protections, religious freedoms and human rights for Iraqi refugee families caught in legal limbo.
- The international community must ensure that borders in the region are kept open to Iraqi families fleeing life-threatening violence, and that religious minorities and other vulnerable groups are not forced to return.
"We're talking about children who have witnessed violence and death repeatedly in their home country," says Rein Paulsen, World Vision's senior director for emergency response. “Now, without education, basic protections or job opportunities for their parents, these vulnerable children are facing a future of poverty and disenfranchisement in the region."