The Iraq War has caused the largest population displacement in the Middle East since 1948. However, the dire situation has elicited neither a major international humanitarian response nor a policy debate over U.S. responsibility for the crisis. Sectarian fighting, political and criminal violence, lack of basic services, loss of livelihoods, spiraling inflation, and uncertainty about the future have pushed some 4 million Iraqis from their homes. Neighboring states, burdened by the influx of refugees and concerned for their own security, have imposed visa restrictions and effectively cut off entry. The Iraqis that have fled to neighboring countries face tremendous uncertainties, including the threat of deportation. Regional governments, coalition forces, and international organizations are grappling with the crisis while protecting against security vulnerabilities. The recent flow of Iraqis returning home may be a promising sign, but until security in Iraq improves and people can safely go back, critical attention must be paid to the remaining options: improved conditions inside Iraq, temporary placement in a host country, or resettlement in a third country.
The Center for American Progress and the Heinrich Boell Foundation invite you to join us for a conference addressing Iraq’s displacement crisis, the international responses, and the prospects for improving the situation. The panelists will offer their insights on the current challenge and examine the moral and security implications of the crisis, share strategies, and identify programming and policy options.
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Program of Events:
8:30 a.m. A light breakfast will be served
9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Helga Flores Trejo, Director, Heinrich Boell Foundation, North America
John Podesta, President, Center for American Progress
Earl Blumenauer, Congressman, U.S House of Representative (D-OR)
Panel One: The Current Crisis and Responses Thus Far
Reinhold Brender, Counselor, Political Section, European Commission Delegation to the United States
Bill Frelick, Refugee Policy Director, Human Rights Watch
Said Hakki, President, Iraqi Red Crescent Society
Victor Tanner, Adjunct faculty member, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University and consultant for the International Rescue Committee
Anita Sharma, Center for American Progress
11:30 a.m. A light lunch will be served
11:45 – 12:45 p.m.
Larry Korb, Center for American Progress
An Iraqi Account of the Situation and the International Response to the Crisis
Ahmed Ali, former translator and interpreter for numerous media outlets, the U.S. and Iraqi governments, recently resettled in the United States
Michel Gabaudan, Washington Director, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Panel Two: The Next Challenges of Iraq’s Displacement Crisis
Elizabeth Ferris, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, and co-director of the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement
John Merrill, Director for Refugees, IDPs, and Parole Programs, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Middle East – Iraq Office
Kristele Younes, Advocate, Refugees International
Mara Rudman, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress