Good news on the resettlement front – the United States resettled 1,900 Iraqis in June, for a fiscal year 2009 total of 13,537. Last September, the government set a goal of bringing 17,000 vulnerable Iraqi refugees to safety in the United States during the course of the year. Nine months into the fiscal year, they’ve met 80 percent of that goal. It’s by far the best U.S. resettlement effort since this humanitarian crisis began with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Much credit is due to Ambassador James Foley, who has served as Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugee Issues in the State Department since September 2007. When he came on board, U.S. resettlement efforts for Iraqis began to improve, and the improvement has been steady and much welcome. Last month, President Obama nominated Ambassador Foley to be U.S. ambassador to Croatia (he previously served as ambassador to Haiti from 2003 to 2005). It’s unclear whether he’ll be replaced in the State Department. We hope that Ambassador Foley’s departure doesn’t indicate a decreasing commitment to resettlement of the most vulnerable Iraqis – particularly as the United States military disengages from Iraq.