Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan is in London after meeting in Jordan with Iraqis working on the massive refugee crisis. Four million Iraqis have been displaced by the war. Half are refugees, mostly in Jordan and Syria. Tendai Maphosa attended a news conference held by Sheehan and has filed this report for VOA.
Cindy Sheehan first made headlines in 2004 when she set up a peace camp outside President George Bush's Texas ranch following the death of her son Casey, a U.S. soldier in Iraq.
On Tuesday, she stopped in London after visiting Jordan to see the refugee situation for herself. She called it a humanitarian crisis that has overwhelmed the host countries.
"There are about 2 million internally displaced people in Iraq and from what we hear from Iraqis we talked to, is that there is closer to 1 million in Jordan and closer to two million in Syria, and they don't have the basic human essentials; their children can't go to school they can't get medical care," she noted. "In Jordan they can't work but there is jobs; in Syria they can work but there are no jobs."
She said the situation is so dire that young girls are prostituting themselves to feed their families. She announced that her organization, the Camp Casey Peace Institute, along with other anti-war organizations and Iraqi refugees in Jordan are working together to build awareness in the United States about the crisis. To this end, she said there would be a mass mobilization in Washington, D.C. and in Iraq on September 15, but she described this as an interim measure.
"The thing that's going to help them the most is when the occupying forces leave and their country is stable enough for them to go back to," she added. "So we have two problems here. We have hundreds of thousands, millions, of people who need humanitarian aid, and we have to end the occupation so we don't create any more refugees."
Sheehan said the inability of U.S.-led forces to provide security to the Iraqi people is a war crime. She said a recent $25 million contribution by the United States to the UN's refugee agency is grossly insufficient.
"That's two hours of the war budget," she noted. "We are spending $12 million an hour on the war, so it is a very inadequate response."
She said the U.S. contribution has helped only about 40,000 people.
In early August, Sheehan announced she would run for a congressional seat in California against U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat. Sheehan says the Democrats, who regained control of Congress in 2006, have not honored promises they made during the campaign. She says she is running as an independent.