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Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008, 3:01 pm

Refugee crisis a ‘surreal state of affairs’

By Justine Reisinger
Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván - who wrote “Promoting Incompetence In Iraq” in the August issue of In These Times - left the military after 17 years of service and two tours of duty in Iraq.

Disenchanted with what he says was “incredible dereliction, incompetence and corruption” in military leadership, and unable to speak out due to gag orders, Montalván, along with Capt. Tyler Boudreau, formed the Iraq Veterans Refugee Aid Association (IVRAA).

Under the sponsorship of Physicians for Social Responsibility, IVRAA aims to influence U.S. policy to grant aid and asylum for Iraqi refugees.

Since the U.S. invasion in 2003, an estimated 4.7 million Iraqis have been forced out of their homes. Nearly 2 million of them have left the country entirely.

In August, Montalván and Boudreau are traveling to Jordan - a temporary home to 750,000 displaced refugees - for IVRAA's first fact-finding mission.

“We want to see [the refugee situation] for ourselves,” Montalván says. “We have a moral responsibility, as does our nation, to deal with this surreal state of affairs.”

IVRAA’s mission, he says, is to provide opportunities to U.S. veterans to give back, and to get the U.S. government to change its policies.

“There is a refugee crisis no matter what party you're affiliated with, no matter what your notion of the war is,” Montalván says. “This is something everyone should be able to get their arms around.”

Head here to donate and read about the trip to Jordan.
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