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Hon. Alcee L. Hastings, Chairman
Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
July 16, 2008


(Washington, D.C.) Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, lauded prominent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and religious groups for their support of the Iraqi Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement, and Security Act (H.R. 6496). The following organizations have endorsed this legislation: The Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict (CIVIC), Church World Service, Congregation of Divine Providence of San Antonio, Education for Peace in Iraq (EPIC), International Rescue Committee, the Iraq Foundation, the Leadership Conference on Women Religious, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Mercy Center, Mercy Corps, NETWORK, Open Society Policy Center, Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement, the Presbyterian Church (USA), Refugees International, Sisters of Charity of New York, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Sisters of St. Joseph NW PA, and Save the Children.

Last night, Hastings and Dingell reintroduced H.R.6496, which addresses the impending humanitarian crisis and potential security break-down as a result of the mass influx of Iraqi refugees into neighboring countries, and the growing internally displaced population in Iraq, by increasing directed accountable assistance to these populations and their host countries as well as facilitating the resettlement of Iraqis at risk. Original co-sponsors of H.R.6496 include, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Christopher Shays (R-CT), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Steve Israel (D-NY), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), John Olver (D-MA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Peter Welch (D-VT). Please find a copy of the legislation, HERE.

“The plight of Iraqi refugees and IDPs is worsening by the day. It is heartbreaking to hear the stories of families who fled for their safety, are now unable to work and have subsequently depleted their savings in order to survive,” noted Chairman Hastings. “Irrespective of one’s view on the Iraq war, I believe that the United States has a moral obligation to address this humanitarian crisis.

“I want to thank all the organizations who have endorsed my legislation and who every single day work tirelessly to make this world a better place. Without their commitment to helping the people devastated by this crisis, the situation in the region would be even worse.

“Additionally, I would like to thank Congressman Dingell for his continued leadership in the House of Representatives on this issue and for his help in drafting this legislation as well as the other original co-sponsors supporting this bill. As I have said on many occasions, this must not be a partisan issue, but rather Congress and the Administration have an obligation to work together before the Iraqi refugee crisis further destabilizes the region,” said Chairman Hastings.

Chairman Dingell stated, “As Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, Congressman Hastings has done an outstanding job of investigating the plight of Iraqi refugees, and educating our colleagues in the Congress about the dire nature of this crisis. The world is looking to the United States for leadership in this area, and this legislation is an important step in the right direction. Many of the organizations supporting this bill are working directly with these refugees, and their input and guidance has been invaluable. Their support is a true statement about this bill and how it will make a difference in the live of countless vulnerable men, women and children.”

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.
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