July 26, 2010
Human Rights First Continues to Urge reforms to the U.S. Resettlement Program as Congress holds Hearing on Iraqi Refugees
Last week in written testimony submitted for the record to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Human Rights First outlined suggested reforms designed to better protect refugees in need of resettlement. Among the proposed reforms were measures such as establishing a transparent and formal expedited procedure for refugees who face an imminent risk of harm in countries to which they have fled, enacting measures to increase transparency within resettlement processing, and improvements to staffing, coordination and timeliness of the security clearance process. The recommendations we submitted are based on our organization's recent field-based research with Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. We will soon publish a larger report based on these findings. Last week's Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe hearing on Iraqi refugees drew much-needed attention to the serious protection difficulties that Iraqi refugees and U.S.-affiliated Iraqis continue to face throughout the Middle East, including in Iraq itself. We commend the leadership of Chairman Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and Co-Chairman Alcee Hastings (D-23rd FL) for their commitment to ensuring that the United States leads the international community in finding sustainable durable solutions for displaced Iraqis. We also welcome the testimony of Eric Schwartz, Assistant Secretary for Population, Refuges and Migration, and in particular the information he provided on U.S. efforts to resettle displaced Iraqis. As we continue our work to address the many challenges faced by Iraqi and other refugees, Human Rights First will also participate in working groups that were recently established by the Department of State to address concerns around expedited resettlement. We welcome the formation of these groups, as they provide an opportunity to produce policy reform recommendations which would benefit refugees in urgent need of resettlement.