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Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 2, 2008

U.S. Government Reaches Record for Iraqi Refugee Admissions and Humanitarian Assistance in Fiscal Year 2008

By the end of the U.S. government’s fiscal year on September 30, 13,823 Iraqi refugees had arrived for resettlement in the United States, surpassing the target of 12,000. This figure represents a more than eightfold increase over the 1608 Iraqis admitted in the previous year. Most of the Iraqis who arrived in the U.S. – over 9000 – came from Jordan and Syria, the two countries hosting the most Iraqi refugees. Smaller groups came from Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt.

U.S. humanitarian assistance to Iraqi refugees, conflict victims, and displaced persons also increased significantly over the past year. During Fiscal Year 2008, U.S. contributions totaled $398.27 million, up from $171 million in FY 2007. The money provided food, shelter, education and other assistance to more than four million displaced Iraqis inside and outside the country.

Of the $398.27 million in FY 2008 assistance, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance contributed $75 million, primarily for assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Iraq, and USAID’s Food for Peace program contributed $36.4 million in food assistance in Iraq and for Iraqi refugees in Syria. Through the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), the State Department contributed $287 million to UN and other international humanitarian organizations for assistance both inside and outside Iraq. This included an unprecedented 65 percent of UNHCR's regional Iraq appeal of $271 million (a total of $175.4 million). Traditionally, the U.S. funds 25 – 35 percent of the overall requirements in response to UN appeals. We urge other donors to increase significantly their contributions to these humanitarian programs in 2009.

Other beneficiaries of U.S. funding included the World Food Program (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other international organizations. In addition, the State Department and USAID funded 15 NGOs for humanitarian projects both in Iraq and in neighboring countries hosting refugees.

U.S. funding through these organizations has supported the most vulnerable refugees, IDPs and conflict victims in numerous ways:

  • Distribution of food and household necessities every two months to more than 140,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria;
  • Provision of basic goods to families in need, such as blankets, mattresses, clothing and cookware, in Jordan and Syria;

  • Establishment of medical clinics to treat thousands of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon;

  • Assistance to more than 9,000 Iraqi refugee students with books, uniforms, and transportation to and from schools;

  • Provision of food, shelter, and household necessities to the neediest among Iraq’s 2.8 million internally displaced;

  • Contributions to assist the Iraqi government to build the institutions and capacities to bring refugees and IDPs back to their homes, restore their property, and provide them essential services.

During the next fiscal year, the U.S. plans to continue to help meet the needs of Iraq’s displaced population, and has pledged to admit a minimum of 17,000 of the most vulnerable Iraqis for resettlement in the U.S. through the U. S. Refugee Admissions Program.


Released on October 2, 2008

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