UNHCR Needs Funding for Iraqi Debacle

We know Junior will step right up for this little project ….

U.N. Refugee Agency Seeks $261 Million
By ELIANE ENGELER – 1 day ago

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday called for $261 million this year to help hundreds of thousands of Iraqis driven from their homes by violence.

The money is needed to provide health care, financial support and other assistance to the most vulnerable of the 2 million Iraqis who have fled the country, as well as to help some 400,000 of those who have left their homes but remain in Iraq, said a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

UNHCR estimates that a total of 2.2 million people are displaced in Iraq.

“Getting help to many of them is extremely difficult because of insecurity in much of the country,” said Ron Redmond.

Most of the Iraqis who fled to other countries live in urban areas in Syria and Jordan, Redmond said.

“Many of them are running out of money and finding it increasingly difficult to get by,” he told reporters.

Redmond said the agency was unable to confirm Iraqi government reports that at least 30,000 families returned in late 2007. He said the U.N. doesn’t encourage Iraqi refugees to return home because of the security situation but supports Iraqi government efforts to help those who return voluntarily.

The agency also helps neighboring nations strained by the influx of Iraqi refugees, he said. Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and several of Gulf states, in addition to Jordan and Syria, are hosting refugees from Iraq.

The money will enable another 100,000 Iraqi refugee children to go to school this year, twice as many as last year, Redmond said.

UNHCR also assists around 41,000 non-Iraqi refugees in the country, including Iranians and Turks, but is particularly concerned about 13,000 Palestinians targeted by armed groups and unable to enter neighboring countries, he said.

The Palestinian community in Iraq has become a target for persecution in recent years, largely because they are seen as having been favored under Saddam Hussein’s regime. Redmond said UNHCR hoped to resettle the most vulnerable Palestinians.

In 2007, UNHCR, which has nearly 350 staff working on programs for Iraq and the region, received more than $152 million to help uprooted Iraqis and refugees in Iraq.

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