Monday, March 05, 2007

Beyond FACTS: A Monday Mixed-Bag

Thanks again to Matt at Empathy for his March 5 post, “A Promise,” and for this terrific photo. The post tells the bittersweet story of an Iraqi boy, an American GI who cared enough to make a huge difference, and a grieving widow who was determined to make her husband’s dream come true. Good things do happen; now if we could just help the thousands of Iraqi children displaced, traumatized, and permanently injured in so many ways since April 2003. Listening to Amnesty International might be a good place to start. According to the February 14 press release “Amnesty International USA Urges United States to Provide More Assistance to Refugees”:

“Nearly 2 million people are fleeing Iraq in what the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres recently called a ‘humanitarian disaster.’ According to Guterres, there are more than 1.7 million Iraqis internally displaced, including some 500,000 who have been displaced since the bombing of a Shi’a holy shrine in the city of Samarra in February 2006. Since 2003, up to 2 million Iraqis have sought refuge in neighboring countries. Of these, some 700,000 currently reside in Jordan and approximately 1 million reside in Syria.

“Many of the Iraqis fleeing the country are members of vulnerable populations, such as religious minorities, or now have affiliations with the U.S. government that put them in danger inside Iraq. If such people are not allowed to seek safety, they remain in genuine danger of persecution. As a leading member of the Multinational Force (MNF), the United States must do everything in its power to ensure that durable protection is afforded to Iraqi refugees as well as to the 1.7 million internally displaced people inside Iraq.

“‘United States policy and military action contributed to the dreadful situation that now prevails in Iraq, yet the United States has resettled fewer than 500 Iraqis displaced as a result of the war,’ said Sarnata Reynolds, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) refugee program director. ‘While AIUSA applauds (the) establishment of an Iraq Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Task Force and acknowledges (the) commitment to resettle 7,000 Iraqi refugees during the coming year, many more people need help. The United Nations estimates that 40,000 to 50,000 people flee Iraq each month—where will they go?’”

Also thanks to PublishersMarketplace for this link to a San Francisco Chronicle article, “Largest library closure in U.S. looms.” I love that kids are finding a voice as they protest the threatened closures to their beloved libraries, and despair that federal cuts of so many worthy programs have occurred under the radar in the past few years. People in urban and rural areas suffer most from such cuts, while those of us in the isolated suburbs rarely feel their effects. “Something screwy is going on,” one lady is quoted as saying in this article. Talk about an understatement.


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