Peace Action – 2009-03-19 23:08:24
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(March 20, 2009) — Six years ago today the US invaded Iraq. It is staggering to reflect on the losses both Americans and Iraqis have suffered. A million Iraqis have died in the past six years; and, according to the United Nations another 4.2 million have been displaced. [See story below.] Their country has been decimated and their population splintered into armed political factions.
President Obama has called for a partial withdrawal; but tragically, leaving a residual 50,000 troops in Iraq will only complicate the situation further. There is no military solution to the problems in Iraq. We must remind our new President that it is not enough to shift away from the failed policies of the former administration and that he promised a completely new direction.
Today, at vigils around the country, people are asking the President to embrace his role as a revolutionary figure in American history by investing in peaceful solutions over military conflict. Thousands more have sent this message online.
Click here to tell President Obama he can forge a new path for American foreign policy and he can start with Afghanistan.
Almost 5,000 US soldiers have died and thirty percent of those living suffer from debilitating post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to CNN, every day five US soldiers take their own lives overwhelmed by PTSD, long deployments, and difficulty transitioning back to life outside of a war zone. The women and men who serve in our military are stretched too thin and now we are asking them to escalate another war for which we cannot see an end.
Our country and our troops cannot handle an escalated war in Afghanistan. We need a comprehensive plan to address the challenges there; and there are many challenges. But, there are also many solutions: open diplomatic talks to create cease-fire agreements, infrastructure projects that create jobs, and community engagement to rebuild the relationship between our two countries.
If you are sickened by the failed strategies in Iraq I implore you to contact the President today, on the 6th Anniversary of the war in Iraq, and demand he create a comprehensive plan for Afghanistan.
Kevin M. Martin, Executive Director Peace Action
President Obama announced his decision to send 17,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan, on the grounds that ‘the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention’. Peace Action strongly opposes Obama’s recent announcement and urges people to immediately call on Obama to choose diplomacy, not escalation.
KevnMore troops won’t solve our problems in Afghanistan. Click here to tell President Obama and Congress that we need a comprehensive plan for Afghanistan before risking more American and Afghan lives.
We have seen the disastrous consequences of heading into war without a plan in Iraq. We are still mourning American and Iraqi lives lost, and struggling to rehabilitate our economy while spending billions of dollars on war.
Peace Action calls for the ‘rapid withdrawal’ of US troops from Afghanistan and a new commitment to a negotiated diplomatic solution involving all regional players.
The Obama Administration should:
1. De-escalate troop levels in Afghanistan and to reject the idea that there is a military solution to the region’s problems;
2. Immediately stop military activities that indiscriminately impact civilians such as air and drone strikes;
3. Rapidly withdraw US troops from Afghanistan;
4. Commit to negotiated diplomatic talks involving all major regional players, including major international peace-keeping bodies;
5. Address the real needs of Afghans, which include health-care, clean water, education, and security.
Send this important message to our President and Congress.
Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Al Qaeda has increased its attacks. Last year saw the most civilian deaths in Afghanistan since the US invaded, and a new poll shows that only 18% of Afghans want more US troops. Bombings of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan are angering the populations in both countries and their governments, undermining the US’s ability to create stability. We cannot simply intensify the Bush administration’s failed policy. Now is the time for us to press President Obama and Congress to find a better approach to Afghanistan.
General David Patreaus has called Afghanistan the “graveyard of empires.” An authoritative report released last year demonstrated that military force has historically been unsuccessful in defeating terrorism . Counterinsurgency experts have said that a military strategy would require hundreds of thousands of troops we can’t send, and even if we did there would be no guarantee of success.
We have heard a lot about why we need to shift resources to Afghanistan, but we need to hear a lot more about what kind of resources would be truly effective. There are many other pieces of this puzzle. Can you help us send this urgent message today?
• Graveyard of Empires: Military esclation will not bring peace.
• Correcting Our Mistakes: Who, and why, we are fighting in Afghanistan.
Footnote: 1. According to a RAND Corporation report, since 1968, only seven percent of all terrorist groups that have ended were taken down by military force. In contrast, 40 percent of those groups were defeated through police and intelligence work, and 43 percent gave up terrorism as they were integrated into the political process. The framework of the “Global War on Terror” has set up unrealistic expectations of a military victory against non-state actors, and the apportioning of counterterrorism resources has reflected that flawed approach.
Number of Displaced Iraqis Tops 4.2 Million;
Shanty Towns Mushroom
A href=”http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/iraq?page=news&id=466579e64”>UN Human Rights Commission
GENEVA (June 5, 2008) — The situation in Iraq continues to worsen, with more than 2 million Iraqis now believed to be displaced inside the country and another 2.2 million sheltering in neighbouring states. Calls for increased international support for governments in the region have so far brought few results, and access to social services for Iraqis remains limited. Most of the burden is being carried by Jordan and Syria.
Inside Iraq, some 85 percent of the displaced are in the central and southern regions. Most of those displaced are from Baghdad and surrounding districts. Since February last year, an estimated 820,000 people have been displaced, including 15,000 Palestinians who have nowhere to go.
“Individual governorates inside Iraq are becoming overwhelmed by the needs of the displaced. At least 10 out of the 18 governates have closed their borders or are restricting access to new arrivals,” UNHCR spokesperson, Jennifer Pagonis, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.
“UNHCR is receiving disturbing reports of regional authorities refusing to register new arrivals, including single women, and denying access to government services. Many displaced have been evicted from public buildings,” she added.
Combined with the general lack of resources, this has led to a growing number of impoverished shanty towns. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq and the World Food Programme indicate that at least 47 percent of the displaced have no access to official food distribution channels.
The number of Iraqis fleeing to neighbouring countries remains high. According to government figures, some 1.4 million Iraqis are now displaced in Syria, up to 750,000 in Jordan, 80,000 in Egypt and some 200,000 in the Gulf region. Syria alone receives a minimum of 30,000 Iraqis a month.
Pagonis noted that recognition rates of Iraqis in various countries outside the region, particularly in Europe, remained low. “UNHCR repeats its call for all borders to remain open to those in need of protection,” she said.
UNHCR is rapidly expanding its operations and presence in the region, but the magnitude of the crisis is staggering, the spokesperson said. “We now have 300 staff working full time on Iraqi displacement. They are based in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Geneva and in Iraq itself.
“Since the beginning of the year, our offices in surrounding countries have registered more than 130,000 Iraqi refugees. By the end of May, UNHCR had interviewed some 7,000 of the most vulnerable Iraqis and sent their dossiers to potential resettlement countries for their further assessment and action,” Pagonis added.
She said UNHCR urged these countries to make rapid decisions and facilitate the departure of those most in need. Resettlement, however, remains an option for only a few of the most vulnerable Iraqis. UNHCR’s goal is to provide up to 20,000 Iraqi resettlement cases to governments this year.
Analysis of detailed statistics show that in Syria alone, about 47,000 of the 88,447 refugees registered since the beginning of this year are in need of special assistance. Of them, about a quarter require legal or protection assistance, including many victims of torture.
Nearly 19 percent have serious medical conditions. UNHCR has opened two community outreach centres in Damascus and will shortly open two more. Food and medical aid is being provided to the most vulnerable. The agency is also working with an increasing number of local and international partners, who are helping with health, education, counselling and vocational training.
Two international UNHCR staff members are working in Erbil and another is scheduled to go to Baghdad when the security situation permits. These international staff are reinforcing more than 20 local UNHCR staff in seven locations in Iraq. The goal is to provide basic assistance and shelter to some 300,000 uprooted Iraqis inside the country by the end of this year.
This, however, is just a fraction of the overall needs. UNHCR legal aid centres in all 18 governorates have provided advice to more than 10,700 displaced Iraqis. By the end of 2007, UNHCR also plans to provide essential medical, health, food and individual assistance to 50,000 of the most vulnerable Iraqis in neighbouring countries.
Who is an Internally Displaced Person?
From The State of the World’s Refugees: Human Displacement in the New Millennium: Chapter 7 Internally displaced persons
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