US Responds to World Refugee Crisis

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With the increasing plight of the displaced people around the world, the United States of America today outlined its efforts in providing assistance and protection both to refugees overseas.

In her remarks in Atlanta, Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard

for Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration says there are significant humanitarian challenges.

“The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is concerned about 42 million people worldwide which includes over 15 million people considered refugees because they have fled their countries and crossed borders, and 6 million stateless persons.” – Ms. Richard

And the rest the majority- are considered internally displaced persons (IDPs), meaning people forced to flee within their own countries, she added.

Children preparing for evacuation from Spain during the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939.
Children preparing for evacuation from Spain during the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939.

Overseas, the US works primarily through multilateral organizations, such as the UN refugee agency, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

This multilateral approach offers important opportunities for advancing U.S. priorities, she noted.

Alone, the United States cannot meet all of the world’s humanitarian needs, Ms. Richard pointed out.

However, US investment in these organizations generates contributions from other donors.

“And together, we are better placed to meet these urgent needs. In this way, we improve the effectiveness of our response.” – Ms. Richard

On focusing attention overseas

In the Middle East, the US is a leader of humanitarian assistance in response to the crisis in Syria.

The United States has already provided over $365 million to humanitarian assistance efforts to provide protection and assistance in Syria and to those fleeing the violence, Ms. Richrad said.

In Asia, ethnic and sectarian violence in Burma has led Burmese to seek refuge in neighboring countries, she stated.

According to Ms. Richard, cognizant of Burma’s efforts at reform and opening, the US has urged Burma to address this situation in accordance with rule of law and in a manner that builds greater tolerance and understanding across ethnic and religious communities.

In Africa, Ms. Richard cites there are now nearly 570,000 Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees; 40 percent of whom have been displaced in the past year and a half.

In Mali, rebel conflict in the north has produced insecurity and instability and resulted in nearly a quarter of a million internally displaced persons and nearly 165,000 refugees in neighboring countries, Ms. Richard noted.

Refugee children from Somalia Bantu ethnic minority group resettled in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Refugee children from Somalia’s Bantu ethnic minority group resettled in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The crisis also comes at a time of extreme food shortages in the Sahel region, she said.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ms. Richard says innocent civilians flee unspeakable abuse.

Meanwhile, there are almost a million Somali refugees in the Horn of Africa, she said.

Ms. Richard says millions more remain at risk inside Somalia as well.

“We also know that refugee women and children are particularly in danger of sexual violence, physical abuse and exploitation, and separation from families – among other threats.” – Ms. Richard

The US aims to ensure efforts to protect women and girls and other vulnerable people around the world are incorporated into the design and operations of assistance programs.

US leadership role in terms of offering resettlement to refugees

According to Ms. Richard, welcoming refugees is a core part of who we are as a nation.

“It reflects our national values. America was after all founded as a place of refuge.” – Ms. Richard

She says the Statue of Liberty welcomes the tired, the poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

The US welcomed to its shores those fleeing hunger, poverty, persecution, and desperation.

“Our culture, our history, and our character are defined by their contributions, by the Americans they became. It is how we become who we are.

– Ms. Richard

U.S. Refugee Admissions program

The United States provides resettlement to more refugees than all other countries combined.

According to Ms. Richard, since 1975, more than 3 million have found a new home in the United States.

Last fiscal year, the U.S. welcomed more than 58,000 refugees from around the world.

Ms. Richard says the U.S. Refugee Admissions program relies upon our partnerships with non-governmental organization and municipal partners.

“Together, we make sure that refugees in Georgia are able to get on their feet during their first weeks and months here.” – Ms. Richard

In addition, Ms. Richard notes that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program relies upon its partnership with non-governmental organizations and municipal partners.

Ms. Richard adds that the success of US resettlement program depends upon the work of communities and volunteers.

She says by supporting the US refugee admissions program through tax dollars, by sharing streets and schools and playgrounds with admitted refugees, by donating clothes, household goods or time to community organizations, or by hiring a refugee yourself, one is part of this solution.

“Your hard work contributes to a place where refugees get the opportunity for a fresh start. Your hard work, and that of your community, can provide them a safe and stable home and reunite families.” – Ms. Richard

2012 tough year for humanitarians

Saying that 2012 has been a tough year for humanitarians trying to help displaced people around the world, the United States of America revealed 2012 report on how US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration responded to the refugee crisis globally.

How US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration PRM has responded:

In Syria, 40,000 people have been killed, over 2 million are displaced inside Syria and over half a million people have fled to neighboring countries.

The U.S. Government is providing $210 million in humanitarian aid to the region and its aid is reaching millions.

In Africa, in 2012, new refugees flee violence and drought in Northern Mali and fighting in Sudan, and even more displacement in the conflict-ravaged eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The PRM is engaged in emergency response and routinely carry out monitoring and evaluation visits to ensure U.S.-funded aid is well spent and reaching the people who need it.

In Afghanistan, PRM helped repatriate and reintegrate over 83,000 Afghans who returned home this year. We formalized the handover of NGO-run health clinics to the Ministry of Health.

With regards to refugee resettlement, the three millionth refugee admitted to the United States since 1975 arrived in February.

The US is on track to admit 70,000 refugees in fiscal year 2013 as well.

In December 2011, the United States announced an initial contribution of $125 million toward the 2012 operations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.