The Iraq Commission, a high profile, independent, cross party Commission that has produced its final report with recommendations on the future of Britain’s role in Iraq.
The Refugee Council’s Director of Communications, Tim Finch, gave oral evidence to the Commission at a televised hearing on the 15th June.
The Commission examined all possible options for Britain’s future role in Iraq and considered evidence from a wide range of viewpoints. The final report is available on the Commission’s website (See p84 for the pieces pertaining to the Refugee Council’s evidence).
In response to the report, Tim Finch said.
“We welcome the fact that the Iraq Commission has given a lot of weight in its report to the urgent need for the UK government to respond more generously to the Iraqi refugee crisis. The commissioners clearly listened to the evidence from the Refugee Council and many other agencies about the scale of that crisis and we hope that in turn ministers will listen to the Commission.
“The UK government should be significantly increasing the amount of financial and political aid it gives to UNHCR and to neighbouring countries like Syria and Jordan, and it must act quickly to start a resettlement programme for the most vulnerable Iraqi refugees. We would add that the government could also help the situation by recognising more claims for asylum in the UK from Iraqis and scrapping its policy of enforcing returns to Iraq.”
The Commission is jointly chaired by the former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown, a former Labour Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Jay, and a former Conservative Defence Secretary, Lord King. It has been set up by the Foreign Policy Centre, in partnership with Channel 4, with an aspiration to be the British equivalent of the US Iraq Study Group.
The Refugee Council’s main point to the Commission was that the UK government should be doing more to tackle the growing refugee crisis. It is estimated that there are more than 2 million internally displaced people inside Iraq and more than 2 million sheltering in neighbouring countries, like Syria and Jordan. The UK government could help in three ways:
- By giving more financial aid bilaterally and through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees
- By setting up a programme to resettle the most vulnerable Iraqi refugees in the UK
- By stopping the enforced removal of all Iraqi asylum seekers who are currently in the UK
The findings of the Commission was aired in a Channel 4 special on Channel 4 and on the Channel 4 website.