NEW YORK, August 6 (RIA Novosti) – The United States is not meeting its “moral responsibility” to address a humanitarian crisis in Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of people have fled Islamist violence, a charity director told RIA Novosti.
“The US needs to be more directly engaged with both the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan regional government,” Erik Gustafson, director of the US-based Education for Peace in Iraq Center (Epic), said on Wednesday.
“There is a view among several agencies that the US has a moral responsibility and a strategic interest to play a greater role, not only in addressing the humanitarian needs in Iraq but also to address the root causes of the conflict,” Gustafson said.
Gustafson’s group, Epic, was joined by the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, the National Council of Churches USA and 31 other charities and faith groups to write a joint letter calling on US Secretary of State John Kerry to offer a “clear, long-term strategy” on Iraq.
By “coordinating diplomacy and assistance with the UN and allies, we strongly believe that the US government can deliver more effectively on its commitment to assist and protect vulnerable Iraqis,” it said.
The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, says almost 250,000 have fled to Iraq from Syria and other countries. More than 950,000 others are internally displaced – many fleeing their homes following the onslaught of Islamic State (ISIS) militants.
Iraq has seen waves of inter-ethnic violence and instability since US forces toppled president Saddam Hussein in 2003.
On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Washington is working with Iraqi officials. “We urge all Iraqi authorities, civil society and international partners to work the UN and its partners to deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance,” he told reporters.