Since the war in Iraq began in 2003, millions of Iraqis have been displaced and forced to flee their homes, both within Iraq and to neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Because these countries are not signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Iraqi refugees are not afforded the protection and basic human rights of most refugees in other countries. Thus, a majority of Iraqi refugees cannot legally work and lack access to basic health, social services and education.
As a result many Iraqi refugees are destitute. They have depleted all of their savings after several years in exile. Many suffer from debilitating illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney problems and cancer with limited or no access to health care. Iraqi refugees traumatized by war and civil strife are also not receiving the adequate mental health care they need.
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Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. We are motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, foster charity and justice, and embody Catholic social and moral teaching as we act to:
-Promote human development by responding to major emergencies, fighting disease and poverty, and nurturing peaceful and just societies; and,
-Serve Catholics in the United States as they live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters around the world.
As part of the universal mission of the Catholic Church, we work with local, national and international Catholic institutions and structures, as well as other organizations, to assist people on the basis of need, not creed, race or nationality.
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