REPS. MCCOLLUM, PALLONE, SCHIFF, AND WALZ URGE SECRETARY CLINTON TO ASSIST IRAQI ARMENIAN CHRISTIAN REFUGEES

Congressional Documents and Publications
May 18, 2010

Washington, DC - 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."