About the Author: Eric Schwartz is Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
As 2010 comes to a close, I'd like to share with you some of the results of a busy year here at the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). We worked hard to advance key goals of our mission: to protect the world's most vulnerable populations, including women and children at risk, and survivors of conflict and persecution. And we've sought to transform our way of communicating with partners outside of government, through a more regular exchange of information on our activities with key constituencies and the general public. We've engaged directly with our partners on country-specific humanitarian challenges, as well as on issues such as building capacity in fragile and failed states, and protection of LGBT asylum seekers and refugees.
Our nearly $2 billion in humanitarian assistance helped tens of millions of people in every corner of the world, and we pressed protection objectives with senior officials in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Near East and in our own hemisphere.
Africa: The Bureau focused its efforts on protecting civilians in conflict, and my trips over the past 14 months to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Chad and Sudan reflected our area priorities. We funded civilian protection teams associated with the peacekeeping mission in the DRC, as well as additional civilian protection efforts by UNHCR. We support over 30 maisons d`ecoute, where rape victims receive counseling and referrals for medical care. In Chad, we provided some $50 million in aid for about 270,000 Darfuri refugees in the east and have supported international efforts to strengthen protection around the camps. In Sudan, we assisted returnees from the south, supported Eritrean refugees in eastern Sudan, aided Congolese fleeing the Lord's Resistance Army, and supported protection and assistance for Darfuris.
Asia: The Bureau focused largely on continued support for refugees in protracted situations. In Pakistan and Thailand, I visited with displaced persons and refugees and urged senior officials to sustain policies of tolerance and refuge. PRM supported programs focused on women, such as training of community health workers in Pakistan to perform regular prenatal check-ups for pregnant women and to implement safe delivery techniques.
Europe: We provided aid through UNHCR for the displaced in Georgia, and have effectively promoted Balkan negotiations on refugee return.
Near East: Our protection and assistance priorities in the region include internally displaced Iraqis and Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, as well as Palestinian refugees throughout the region. As part of the Iraqi government's stabilization effort, PRM contributed to the Diyala initiative, a multi-platform effort to support the return of internally displaced Iraqis and refugees to an area that was severely devastated by terrorism and sectarian violence. Elsewhere, U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) helped to promote stability by providing education, health care, and other services to over 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
Western Hemisphere: PRM funded assisted voluntary returns of Haitians who fled to the Dominican Republic after the January earthquake, and, in Colombia, we supported health services to conflict victims in isolated communities.
Beyond these regional efforts, we also sought to make improvements in our refugee admissions program -- in particular, by doubling the amount of initial support PRM provides to refugees arriving in the United States. The goal was simple: to ensure refugees have adequate aid: a roof over their heads, and adequate access to critical assistance during their first weeks in U.S. communities.
Finally, we sought to strengthen -- and bring greater focus to -- our efforts in support of international migration policies that respect the rights of migrants while promoting border security. At the Global Forum for Migration and Development in Mexico, we took the lead in advancing common and humane principles and practices in this critical area.
Humanitarian assistance needs are growing as the number of refugees, stateless persons, internally displaced persons and vulnerable migrants increase. The coming year will be another busy one in our Bureau. Very shortly we'll announce this year's funding pledge to UNHCR. I look forward to commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the 50th anniversary of the statelessness convention, and to continuing our leadership role as the chair for the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees.
We also continue our commitment to transparency -- you can find news and my letters to the community here. We look forward to continuing our work with counterparts in the humanitarian community in the weeks and months to come.