U.S. NGOs urge Bonn conference to focus on long-term Afghan needs

WASHINGTON (Dec 5, 2011)— International leaders meeting in Bonn on Monday to discuss the future of Afghanistan should expand their focus from short-term stabilization efforts  to longer term development work that will have a lasting impact on the country.

To date, not enough emphasis has been placed on meeting basic Afghan needs and building a solid foundation for sustainable peace, recovery and inclusive long-term development, said leading U.S.-based international NGOs on Monday.

“It is the 10th anniversary of the first Bonn conference. We hope that governments attending this meeting fully seize the opportunity to do better than they have to date. Much more needs to be done to put Afghanistan on the road to recovery, stability and sustainable development,” said Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction, the biggest alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs.

“Civil society organizations and ordinary Afghans should be placed at the center of these renewed efforts. Their contributions will be critical to a successful transition from war to peace, where the needs of all Afghans, including women, are taken into consideration,” added Worthington.

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Congressman Requests Assistance for Iraqi Christians

Congressman Gary Peters Requests Assistance for Iraqi Christians

15 Representatives join Peters, Eshoo, Levin and Dold to protect minorities

(Washington, D.C.) November 29, 2011 — Congressman Gary Peters, an active member of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, worked with U.S. Representatives Eshoo, Levin and Dold to seek greater assistance for the ethno-religious minorities of Iraq. Today, they sent a letter signed by a total of 19 Members of Congress seeking funding for increased security and assistance to NGOs in the Nineveh Plains and to Christian Iraqis overall.

The letter was sent to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

The letter acknowledges that the ethno-religious minorities of Iraq, such as Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs and other communities of faith are struggling to “maintain a foothold in the land they have inhabited for thousands of years.” It further recognizes that the Iraqi Christian population is 50% less than what it was in 2003, and perhaps even lower.

In asking for increased assistance to Iraqi Christians, Congressman Peters and his colleagues write that the “daily persecution has resulted in ongoing exodus that threatens the very survival of these ancient communities. Without significant assistance, Iraqis and members of the Iraqi Diaspora believe complete depopulation is possible within a decade.”

The focus of the letter is for the 2012 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Bill to include language recognizing the importance of “providing targeted assistance to ethno-religious minorities in Iraq to help ensure their continued survival, especially those living in the Nineveh Plains region.”