U.S. Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky ("Helping Iraq's Refugees," editorial page, May 30) says "foreign policy pundits" unfairly accuse the Bush administration of indifference to the plight of Iraqi refugees. She proclaims that "progress has been made." Tell that to two million Iraqi refugees and another two million displaced inside Iraq.
How many Iraqi refugees did the U.S. resettle in 2006? It settled 202. The State Department said it would resettle 7,000 this fiscal year. Halfway through, it has admitted 68. Undersecretary Dobriansky says, "We have finalized security protocols enabling us to expedite the resettlement of Iraqi refugees in the U.S." Expedite? Hardly. On May 29, Homeland Security said it is now "poised to approve the applications of nearly 60 Iraqis," and that it was adding new screening procedures for Iraqis to "supplement the checks conducted for all refugee applicants."
Whether the U.S. resettles 70 or 7,000, it amounts to a drop in the ocean of Iraqi refugees -- 700,000 in Jordan; more than a million in Syria. Iraq's neighbors are inundated and they need meaningful international support to keep their borders open. Ms. Dobriansky says that "the U.S. has funded 30% of UNHCR's $60 million Iraq appeal" this year. That's $18 million. She says the U.S. "intends" to provide $100 million more. Meanwhile, the U.S. is spending $2 billion per week to wage the war that directly or indirectly has caused four million Iraqis to be forced from their homes.
Of course, every little bit helps; the U.S. humanitarian contribution is appreciated. But at the least, it seems a bit tacky for the U.S. undersecretary of state to tout this as an example of American largesse.