CONGRESSMEN URGE SECRETARY CLINTON TO ASSIST IRAQI ARMENIAN CHRISTIAN REFUGEES

Asbarez
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

WASHINGTON-Representatives Betty McCollum (MN-04), Frank Pallone
(NJ-06), Adam Schiff (CA-29), and Tim Walz (MN-01) spearheaded a letter
to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging action to ensure the
well-being of Iraqi Armenian Christian refugees in Jordan and Syria.

The letter, which 16 other Members of Congress have signed, urgently
requests U.S. assistance to help resettle Iraqi Armenian Christian
refugees to Armenia. Additional resources from the United States will
allow Armenia to reach more Iraqi Armenian Christians with essential
resources as well as the opportunity to begin a new life in a safe
and secure environment.

According to a recent press release from the U.N. High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR), Iraqi refugees, both inside and outside of
the country, are facing deteriorating conditions while international
concern is slowly declining. The attacks on Iraqi Christian refugees,
in particular, are a constant source of insecurity. UNHCR works to
protect and relocate refuges, while helping them restart their lives
in safer areas. Two years ago, UNHCR-Armenia helped several large
groups of refugees resettle in Armenia.

The Armenian government already made a generous commitment to UNHCR.

This includes the offer of all Iraqi Armenian refugees the opportunity
for citizenship, participation in UNHCR's Iraqi resettlement program,
and resources to help refugees rebuild their lives. Armenia has
effectively delivered on these commitments over the past two years.

"It is in the interest of the U.S. that Iraqi Armenian Christian
refugees be provided the opportunity to start a new life in safety
and peace," said Representative McCollum, who traveled to Syria and
met with Iraqi refugees in 2006. "The Armenian government's offer
to receive refugees is very generous, and I believe the U.S. should
provide the humanitarian support necessary to ensure their successful
relocation and integration into Armenian society."

"Life for these refugees is difficult and the assistance provided
by UNHCR provides relief that is critical to these families," said
Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06). "With the commitment of the
government of Armenia and the success that past funds have yielded in
settling refugees in Armenia it is important for us to continue and
increase the funds being allocated to Armenia. I urge our continued
financial support and continued involvement in this pursuit."

"Conditions for Iraqi Armenian Christian refugees are becoming
increasingly desperate at the same time that international support for
the vulnerable population is dwindling," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

"We urge the Obama Administration to commit additional funds to UNHCR
to sustain the momentum we have built to help these refugees resettle
and rebuild their lives in Armenia, providing a cost-effective and
regional solution for families who might otherwise seek resettlement
within our borders."

Below is the text of the letter:

May 14, 2010

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State U.S. Department
of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton:

We are writing to urge the Obama Administration to make a commitment of
funds to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist in
the resettlement of Iraqi Armenian Christian refugees from Syria and
Jordan to Armenia. It is our understanding that the State Department
is in the process of formulating the Administration's response in
support of UNHCR's 2010 Global Appeal for Iraq. We feel strongly that
it is essential that an initial and specific U.S.

commitment is made to meeting the needs of Iraqi Armenian Christian
refugees.

According to a March 30, 2010 UNHCR press release, conditions for Iraqi
refugees both inside and outside of Iraq are becoming increasingly
desperate at the very time that international concern appears
to be fading. "The dwindling media interest in Iraqi refugees,"
the UNHCR says, "is not matched by a decline in the scale of the
problem." With a planned U.S. troop withdrawal by the end of 2011,
dwindling international support for Iraqi refugees, and the campaign
of violence against Iraqi Christians continuing unabated, the U.S. must
fulfill its obligation to this vulnerable population.

As you know, the State Department's 2008 allocation of $1 million
to UNHCR-Armenia has enabled more than one thousand Iraqi refugees
to begin to rebuild their lives via resettlement in Armenia. It has
been a cost-effective and regional solution for a group that might
otherwise seek resettlement in the United States.

UNHCR's "Regional Response Plan for Iraqi Refugees" released in
January 2010 identifies hundreds of Iraqi Armenian Christian refugees
registered with UNHCR in Jordan. The number of refugees in Syria,
the primary asylum destination for Armenian Christians fleeing Iraq,
is known to be significantly larger. Of the more than two million
refugees who have fled Iraq, only a small portion, less than 20
percent, have been registered by UNHCR thus far. Since hopes for
successful repatriation and reintegration in Iraq have failed to
materialize it is certain that the need for resettlement of Iraqi
Armenian refugees will persist for the foreseeable future.

It is our understanding that the Government of Armenia has made a
formal commitment to U.N. High Commissioner Antonio Guterres to:
offer all Iraqi Armenian refugees a track to citizenship; formally
participate in UNHCR's Iraqi resettlement program; and make land and
facilities available for refugees from Iraq to rebuild their lives.

Armenia has, in fact, delivered on these promises substantially over
the last two years.

The U.S. commitment of additional funds to UNHCR will allow UNHCR in
Armenia to extend its assistance to Iraqi Armenian Christians while
allowing for an accelerated resettlement of additional refugees from
Syria and Jordan to Armenia.

Again, we urge the Obama Administration to sustain the momentum of
what UNHCR, the United States, and Armenia have already accomplished
on behalf of Iraqi Armenian Christian refugees.

Sincerely,

Betty Mccollum Frank Pallone Adam Schiff Tim Walz Raúl M. Grijalva
Charles A. Gonzalez Michael E. Capuano Gary Ackerman John Conyers
James P. Mcgovern Daniel Lipinski Anna Eshoo Joe Baca Jackie Speier
Bruce Braley Janice Schakowsky Patrick Kennedy Collin Peterson Charles
B. Rangel Michael Honda.