US Helps Refugees Turn Their Stories of Tragedy Into Triumph

US Helps to Turn the Promise of America – as a Land That Welcomes Refugees – Into a Reality

Highlighting that devastating overseas emergencies are pushing more and more refugees from their homes, the United States of America today outlined efforts to respond to these emergencies and help them to rebuild their lives.

In her remarks on U.S. Policy and Response to Recent Humanitarian Crisis in Africa, Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard says the United States is the world’s leading resettlement country.

US admits more refugees each year than all other resettlement countries combined more than three million since 1975.

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

“And we all know that our own communities have been as enriched by these newcomers as they have been by the opportunities this country has provided them.” – Ms. Richard

She says US overall resettlement policy remains the same and it will continue to strive to achieve the President’s refugee admissions ceiling, focusing on the most vulnerable who cannot go home or be integrated in their country of first asylum.

Ms. Richard highlighted that US helps to turn the promise of America -as a land that welcomes refugees – into a reality and let refugees turn their stories of tragedy into ones of triumph as well.

PRM Reaches Refugees in Need

According to Ms. Richard, The PRM Bureau has gone to extraordinary lengths in the past year to reach refugees in need of resettlement who were previously inaccessible because of dangerous conditions in the places where they had sought asylum.

In 2012, US provided additional funding to build a transit center in Kakuma camp, where conditions are safer, and have moved close to 1,000 individuals from Dadaab to Kakuma to continue the process for U.S. resettlement.

She indicates another 900 will be moved to Kakuma in the next week.

These refugees, many of whom have been living in Dadaab for more than 20 years, will start arriving in the United States this month, she added.

The UNHCR has announced its intention to refer up to 50,000 Congolese for resettlement over the next five years and it is expects that most will likely come to the United States.

Preparing Refugees and Communities for Successful Resettlement

Bulgarian refugee children from Gorno Brodi after the Second Balkan War resettled in Pestera.

For successful resettlement of refugees, the US has formed a working group to bring together partners from all across the spectrum form overseas and domestic, government, International Organizations, and NGOs.

Ms. Richard reports that US is on track to admit the number of refugees in the Presidential Determination this year.

That is 70,000 refugees a more than 20% increase over last year’s number, she said.

In addition, the US is also providing “floor funding” to its resettlement agency partners, essentially guaranteeing sufficient funding for services to 60,000 refugees so that program managers can plan and hire staff with the assurance that the funding will be there.

How can our domestic programs best address the needs of refugees

Knowing that many refugees are still struggling in the early weeks and months of their arrival in the States and given the overall budget situation in Washington, the US acknowledges the need to widen the circle of domestic “stakeholders” in the refugee resettlement program.

“We need to ensure a warm reception for the refugees we resettle.” – Ms. Richard

And there is a need to find creative ways to expand participation in the program at the local level and support for the program by community leaders.

According to Ms. Richard, PRM is increasingly reaching out to state and local elected officials, employers, health clinics, schools, and others, during our domestic trips.

The US is acutely aware of the importance of early employment for refugees, and therefore of the importance of developing strong relationships with responsible employers in communities.

She says Employers PRM staff around the US have been among the strongest advocates for the refugee admissions program.

She says the Tyson Foods for one, which provides English language training to refugees, has created community liaison positions to assist refugees navigate services and builds bridges with the host community.

In addition, a firm in Ft. Wayne, Indiana was inspired by the challenges refugees have overcome and was impressed by their work ethic.

Burmese now make up 10% of the workforce there, she said.

US Responds to Refugee Crisis Around the World

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

In a report written by Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard, she says in addition to aiding people caught up in protracted refugee situations (such as Colombians, Afghans, Palestinians, Somalis and Burmese), a number of crises erupted that prompted millions more people to flee.

Here is 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.

According to Ms. Richard, 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, Ms. Rcichard cites that 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.

The US supports UNHCR’s Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees, which works with Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to protect refugees until they can return home safely and voluntarily and to find permanent homes for them when they do return.

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

Ms. Richard reports that the number of refugees admitted in fiscal year 2012 surpassed the previous year.

The US is on track to admit 70,000 refugees in fiscal year 2013, Ms. Richard added.

In the Balkans, with the active support of US embassies in the region, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary David Robinson led efforts to find permanent homes for 74,000 people displaced during the 1991-1995 armed conflicts in the Balkans.

In addition, the PRM has led the U.S. delegation to the 45th session of the UN Commission on Population and Development in April and secured a resolution addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents and youth and their human rights.

According to Ms. Richard, PRM spearheaded a successful effort in the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution on “The Right to a Nationality” for women.

Ms. Richard says UNHCR has been able to return hundreds of thousands of refugees to Angola and Liberia in recent years.

As 2012 draws to a close, Ms. Richard sends her gratitude for the continuing interest in and support for PRM’s work.

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).

This year’s initial contribution funded through the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, will support UNHCR efforts worldwide. This funding includes support for refugee returns to countries such as Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo; local integration and resettlement; and protection and life-saving assistance.

U.S. funding supports the provision of water, shelter, food, healthcare, and education to refugees, internally displaced persons, and other persons under UNHCR’s care and protection in countries such as Iraq, Yemen, Nepal, Pakistan, Georgia, South Sudan, Chad, and Kenya. The contribution will support UNHCR’s Annual and Supplementary Program activities listed below:

In 2011, the United States ultimately contributed more than $690 million to UNHCR through multiple tranches, a figure which included funding for on-going operations as well as special appeals for emergencies. We continue to salute the vital work of UNHCR, its many NGO partners, and refugee-hosting countries in providing protection to displaced populations around the world.

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.