U.S. Supports Refugees Worldwide

Posted by Todd Pierce
June 20, 2008
Refugee Camp in Central Africa

About the Author: Todd Pierce works in the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Today is World Refugee Day. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - that’s an organization, not a person – runs this event every year on June 20 as a way to draw attention to the situation of the world’s refugees. There will be events marking the day all over the world, including one hosted by First Lady Laura Bush at the White House.

Sadly, after a few years in which refugee numbers fell, they are on the rise again. This year UNHCR estimates that refugee numbers jumped from 9.9 to 11.4 million people. (Source: UNHCR’s 2007 Global Trends report.) Generally, the International community defines refugees as persons who have crossed a recognized international border and have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. So 11.4 million refugees doesn’t include internally displaced people, who are forced out of their homes but still remain in their home country. That number has risen from 24.4 million to 26 million in the past year, says the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.

The U.S. government has long been the most generous contributor to refugee relief. We give more money to help refugees than any other country, funding programs in central Africa, the Middle East, the Burma-Thai border, Nepal, and many other parts of the world. Last year the U.S. taxpayer funded, through the State Department, over a billion dollars worth of programs to help refugees and other vulnerable migrants. These programs cover some things you’d expect, such as shelter (the famous blue and white tents you’ve seen on the news) and food.

The United States also promotes better health in refugee camps, and strives to reduce the mortality from diseases like malaria, diarrhea and acute respiratory illness. In order to get the most bang for our buck, most of our assistance goes through UNHCR, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the International Organization for Migration. That way we avoid duplication of effort and get the money where it is most needed. The Bureau follows up these contributions fairly zealously, so that we know the money is being spent properly.

We also do a lot on the resettlement front, we work with UNHCR and our non-govenmental organization partners to identify refugees in need of resettlement. The United States resettles more refugees each year than all other 25 resettlement countries combined. Most of the refugees we resettle to the United States can’t go home or integrate locally. As a country where 20% of the world’s migrants reside, our experience has taught us that our country has benefited from immigration generally and the contributions refugees make and that admitting them is the right thing to do. This year President Bush has authorized up to 70,000 refugees to come to the United States; many will be fleeing violence in Burma, Iraq and other troubled spots.

The UNHCR chose “protection” as the theme of this year’s World Refugee Day event. That means protection from violence, of course, and protection from the elements (those tents again). It also means protection from persecution and other harm, which is unfortunately widespread. Humanitarian workers, who are on the front line of refugee relief, also need protection: no longer are they always considered neutral parties by warring factions. Last year’s disgraceful al Qaeda attack on the UNHCR offices in Algiers, and the kidnappings of humanitarian workers in Iraq, showed that even purely charitable enterprises are not immune from terrorist threat.

At the White House event, refugees from Iraq, from Burma and from the Democratic Republic of Congo will speak about their experiences in their home countries, and countries of first asylum and how the resettlement experience went here. Even with the generosity of the communities where they found themselves, and the resilience of most refugees, resettling in another country – and cutting your ties to your country – can be a tough experience. Their success here, however, is the best type of encouragement for those of us in the State Department who work on refugee issues.

Comments

Comments

Jon
|
Kentucky, USA
June 25, 2008

Jon in Kentucky writes:

Since the French Foreign Minister says that the U.S. has done irreparable harm to our image and that we are in a state of imminent decline, coupled with his further comment that China is the new world superpower, maybe we in the U.S. need to step aside and stop all foreign aid and have the Chinese take up that burden. If other nations don't like us then they apparently don't like our aid either.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
June 20, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

Terrorism created the refugee problem in many countries. In the Middle East, terrorism campaign waged by State sponsors, such as the campaign waged by Moslem States of Iran and Saudi Arabia in Iraq and throughout the World and by armed group such as Shia Hezbollah in Lebanon attacking innocent Israeli on the false pretext or resistance to occupation. In Israel, Palestinians continue to wage relentless terror campaign that is fanned exclusively by Shia terrorists of Hezbollah and Iran despite the fact that Israel has repeatedly compromised and offered solution after another.

In Lebanon, Shia sponsored terrorist gangs led by Hezbollah (Arabic for Party of God Ali) have maintained a force of 5000 Shia mainly in an Iranian bid to throw out Syria out of Lebanon and take control of Lebanon. All under the guise of resistance and protection for Lebanon

But what protection they offered, Israeli can drive, fly and swim to any point in Lebanon and Syria and no Shia protection can be found. In the war of 06, Israeli decimated Lebanon to ashes, building, people and cars, literally, Coward Shia Hezbollah terrorist leader gone hiding, not seen until the victory speech. To this day, the refugee problem in Lebanon has not been resolved, because Shia terrorists continue to declare resistance.

What resistance Shia Hezbollah wants to carry on! Resistance to whom? Who is the enemy of Shia Hezbollah, the Jews in Israel or Sunni Moslems of Lebanon and Syria? Hezbollah enemy could not be the Israeli; they are negotiating with the State of Israel. Hezbollah handed Lebanon to multinational forces that are now demanding embassies between Syrian and Lebanon. Shia of Lebanon handed the country to U.N. after this country fought so hard to gain independence from U.N. mandate. Shia Iran is shipping to Tel Aviv 80 % of Israel's crude oil supplies. Iraqi Shia handing America the country of Iraq on a Silver platter. Syria's ruler Bashar Assad is looking forward to an elegant Paris dinner with P.M. Olmert, it does not appear that he is negotiating to get the Syrian Golan back that his father lost (if Olmert is honest). Assad already handed out Iskenderun to Turkey. This province is the home for truly Syrian Capital of Antioch.

This is an obvious ploy by the heavily armed Iran's Shia mercenaries to resist and usurps the rights of Sunni Moslems in Lebanon than the Jews of Israel. If one to examine the type of armament in Hezbollah stock, one can easily determine that is more to coerce and subjugates Lebanese rather than to liberate Palestine.

You can tell what is in the book by its cover, but to know the true intention of Shia, you will need to tear off the cover and split the pages to find the sinister Husseinieh (another Amen/ Marduk scam) plots hidden between the pages. It is obvious Intel points proves that Bush and Co. made a secure backdoor deal and traded smooth sailing of SOFA by the Shia traitors in Iraq for Shia control of Lebanon and Syria, on the expense of Israel security and freedom and democracy throughout the Middle East. It never was a genuine objective in the first place. Just cover for murder and war crimes.

It is no doubt peace time is now here and lasting. Bashar Assad has declared it for Syria and even publicly asked the Lebanese to declare it and negotiate with Israel. No one buying Ahmadinejad and his incompetent army generalãs and Lebanese stooges overt blabbers of destroying Israel. Israel can wipe Iran's and it's Shia Mullahs off the map with the press of a button. Ahmadinejad will be lucky to send something other his mercenaries... (Hizbuali or Hizbuamen) firecrackers across from Lebanese border. No chance he will manage to send a fart from Iran proper. But Israel has declared readiness to return Sheeba farms to Lebanon and strike peace deal with it. Therefore, there is not one reason why the Shia in Lebanon must amass and maintains the weapon stockpiles and communication links, a state within a State. They must immediately surrender these to the State of Lebanon, under a non Shia run Defense Ministry, or Lebanon should seek all means to do so. Otherwise armed Shia should be declared globally as "Terrorist Organizations" and dealt with as such, not just in Lebanon, but globally, not under U.N. chapters, but under an appropriate use of force. This Shia resistance farce is no longer accepted.

It is time to remove the "Takiye" to end destruction, to end refugee squatters and start development and progress.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 22, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Hi Todd,

I thought I'd post this and point out a certain "disconect" I see that lies at the crux of humanitarian crisis in general.

II.-
JOINT LETTER
FROM M. NICOLAS SARKOZY,
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC,
AND MR GORDON BROWN,
PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND,
ON MRS AUNG SAN SUU KYI'S BIRTHDAY

(Paris - London, 19 June 2008)

Dear Aung San Suu Kyi,

We wish to use this opportunity, on the occasion of your birthday, to reaffirm our commitment to your lifelong struggle to achieve democracy and humanity in Burma. You have sacrificed your freedom for the freedom of others. You have shown exceptional courage and dedication to your people.

Your release from house arrest and your freedom to participate in Burma's political future remain essential. We believe the recent referendum lacks credibility as a genuine reflection of the people's will and the new constitution cannot provide a sound basis for Burma's future political development. We call on the Government of Burma to set in motion, without delay, a fully inclusive political process which involves representatives of the full range of civil opposition and ethnic groups.

We welcome your readiness to have a genuine and meaningful dialogue with the military leadership to find a way out of the current stalemate. We are convinced that this voice of humanity and reason will be heard, as people must now realize that bold initiatives and compromises are required and that the present situation is neither satisfactory nor sustainable.

We are very concerned by the humanitarian situation following Cyclone Nargis, and greatly saddened that Burma's people, already deprived of basic human freedoms and economic opportunities, have fallen victim to such a major natural disaster. We were further deeply saddened that offers of international aid were not taken up at a sufficient scale at the outset, but we are pleased that ASEAN countries and the ASEAN Secretary General were able to initiate a response, and that Ban Ki-moon has given his personal support to the process. The work of the regional and international aid agencies has been encouraging, however more needs to be done to ensure aid reaches all the people in acute need and to prevent further suffering and loss of life. The UK and France have immediately committed themselves to helping the relief effort and will support the ASEAN mechanism for longer term reconstruction. The success of the international effort will rely on the actions and conditions set by the Government of Burma.

We admire your strength in reconciling the hopes of Burma's many groups and dedication to the country's national integrity. We will not forget you or your people in this struggle./.

(Source of English text: 10 Downing Street website)

---

Now if I were the unfortunate lady in distress recieving the news that her people's fate was being left up to international cop-outs like this:
"The success of the international effort will rely on the actions and conditions set by the Government of Burma."

I don't think it would be fitting to wish me a happy birthday with it.

AUNG SAN SUU KYI might agree, but I point to the real disconnect that for some reason folks can't seem to grasp that the regime is in process of committing a crime against humanity. Because whether you shoot them or simply deny them adequate assistance through "malign neglect", you've still got enough dead people to meet the definition.

----

SNP,

Interesting assesment, I do believe it has merit.

Latest Stories

Pages