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Updated 2007

Help with humanitarian crises in IraqCharityWatch announces its top-rated list of charities offering aid to the millions of people facing displacement, water shortages, power outages, and health epidemics.

Since 2003, over four million Iraqis have become refugees - more than two million forced from their homes inside Iraq, with an additional two million fleeing to neighboring countries, mainly Syria and Jordan, whose resources are unable to meet the needs of a massive population influx. Up to 50,000 more leave their homes each month, and estimates of the death toll within the country range from the high tens of thousands to over one million; due to the extreme security situation, accurate figures are impossible to calculate. According to a 2007 Oxfam report, 70% of Iraqis lack adequate water supplies, 28% of children are malnourished and 92% of children suffer from learning disabilities due to the traumatic events taking place inside their country. One in three Iraqis are in need of immediate emergency assistance. Compounding the problem, many aid organizations will not accept money from governments that have troops in Iraq, as this is seen to jeopardize their security and independence, increasing still further the need for assistance from international donors.

CharityWatch, a leading charity watchdog that issues letter grade (A+ to F) ratings of nonprofit groups, identifies the following 19 relief charities, which are providing aid to the victims that receive an “A” or “B” grade based on the portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency:
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· American Friends Service Committee (A-)
· American Red Cross (A)
· American Refugee Committee (A+)
· CARE (A-)
· Catholic Relief Services (A)
· Church World Service (B+)
· Doctors without Borders - USA (A)
· Food for the Hungry (A-)
· International Rescue Committee (A+)
· Lutheran World Relief (A)
· Mercy Corps (A-)
· Oxfam-America (A-)
· Save the Children (A+)

All of these charities perform favorably in relation to CharityWatch benchmarks:
1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program services.
2) Charities should spend no more than $25 to raise $100.

Contact your favorite charities to find out if they provide the specific types of aid that you would like to fund, e.g., emergency relief, health care, infrastructure development, education, etc.

Americans wanting to help people facing a humanitarian crisis in Iraq should send contributions to only those charities with an established track record of helping people in this region. During a highly publicized crisis, it is common for disreputable, fly-by-night “charities” to take advantage of the public’s generosity.

The best way to help is by sending a check. Cash donations enable charities to buy the most needed type of food, medicine, clothing, shelter materials and other supplies. By buying relief products locally or regionally, charities can reduce shipping costs and more rapidly deliver assistance. Before sending any goods, first contact the charity to find out if they are appropriate and if it will be cost effective to distribute them. For example, during the Bosnian War (1992–1996), 37.5 million pounds of inappropriate medicines were donated.

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