(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/14/2009) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said today that the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Office has set up an e-mail address, GazaAssistance@state.gov, to help coordinate assistance for American citizens and their family members who plan to travel to the United States after being evacuated from the Gaza Strip.
Those who send a message to the new address receive an automated reply that states in part:
“This e-mail is not for information about how to donate to relief organizations or how to assist Palestinians who remain in Gaza. Please contact an appropriate non-governmental organization for this.
“Instead, it’s a very specific type of assistance that the Department of State, in conjunction with other U.S. government agencies, is coordinating: some of the Gaza family members require sponsors who will take on the responsibility of providing room and board during their stay in the United States. The sponsor can be a non-governmental organization, or a private individual.
“Sponsorship would require a high level of commitment on your part. We’re planning that some families will require assistance for up to six months, so you would be committed for that period of time. At the end of six months, families would either be leaving the United States (likely returning to Gaza), or making their own arrangements for a longer stay in the United States. Sponsorship is completely voluntary, but once you’ve decided to commit, only the most extraordinary circumstances would change the obligation. Although you would sign an affidavit of support and provide it to the U.S. government, the assistance that you provide is a private arrangement between a sponsor and the family that is being assisted…”
The reply also offers additional details about likely evacuees, when they may arrive in the United States and the requirements for sponsorship.
“We thank all those who have offered to support American evacuees from Gaza and hope that anyone vulnerable to Israeli attack is brought to safety as soon as possible,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
Hooper said there was an “enthusiastic response” to a CAIR request for evacuee sponsors.
SEE: Can You Sponsor U.S. Citizens Who Will be Evacuated from Gaza?
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
– END –
CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org