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MORE INFORMATION:Responding to the Plight of Refugees
6/20/2007
"The foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the foreigner as yourself" -- Leviticus 19:34
 
In the world today there are about 12 million refugee and asylum seekers and 21 million who have been forcibly displaced in their home countries, but who have not been able to escape to another country. 

Other Important Facts:

  • 80% of the world’s refugees are women and children.
  • Africa is the continent generating the largest number of refugees; but the Middle East because of the longstanding Palestinian refugee population hosts the largest number of refugees in the world. 
  • Sudan has produced the largest number of refugees and stands with Colombia and Iraq in having some of the largest populations of internally displaced persons.
  • There are about 8 million refugees who have been warehoused in camps or other restricted situations for five (5) years or longer having no rights and often no prospect for a solution.
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries resettles annually 2500 and 3500 refugees from all parts of the world and of all ethnicities and religions. 

The solutions available to refugees include repatriation, local integration and resettlement.  Repatriation is often a remote goal since many refugees are unable to return to their countries and homes due to the threat of persecution because of their race, religion, political opinion or an on going upheaval in their home country. To be integrated locally is also a challenge since most countries initially receiving refugees are often economically and politically fragile; thus receiving thousands of desperate refugees as permanent guests is difficult. Resettlement remains the best solution for many and is an act of rescue for those who are especially vulnerable and is a way in which the U.S. shares in relieving the world’s refugee crisis. Only 20 countries take part in the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) resettlement program, among which are Australia, Canada, Brazil, the Netherlands and the United States. During 2005 only 80,800 refugees were resettled worldwide.

How is the United States Responding?
The United States resettles more refugees than any other nation. In 2006, 41,000 refugees were resettled by the United States. Refugees who resettle in the United States have their refugee claims judged by UNHCR and are referred to the U.S. program, but must be adjudicated further by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to determine their eligibility for the U.S. program. All refugees undergo a thorough security clearance, an exercise that has become more elaborate since 9/11. Ten (10) agencies have agreements with the U.S. government to resettle refugees. 

How is The Episcopal Church Responding?
Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) is one the ten agencies that is approved by the U.S. government to resettle refugees.  EMM works in partnership with dioceses throughout the Episcopal Church, resettling refugees in 27 diocese and 33 affiliate offices. The federal funding received by EMM is augmented substantially by the Episcopal Church and dioceses, parishes, and parishioners throughout its network. 

EMM resettles between 2500 and 3500 refugees each year. EMM and their affiliate network help refugees to transition and start new lives by providing housing and other necessities. They also help refugees learn English, find jobs, go to school, and receive health care which allow them to become self sufficient and successful in their adopted homeland.

Reaching the Resettlement Goal
Although the United States is the leading country in refugee resettlement, the resettlement capacity of the United States and the increasing need for resettlement as a solution for more of the world’s refugees points to a more generous admissions program by the U.S.  For the past several years, the U.S. has failed to resettle the number of refugees that has been requested annually by the President.  When refugee admission numbers are not used in any fiscal year, opportunities to rescue desperate persons are lost.

In 2006, the admissions target was 70,000 refugees but only 41,000 refugees were admitted.  EMM advocates for the full admission number to be met each year. EMM is particularly concerned that the United States reach its resettlement goal of 70,000 refugees in 2007.  There are over 2 million Iraqi refugees in the region and many are in imminent danger, particularly because they are a targeted religious minority or are associated with the U.S. involvement in Iraq.

 

 


 



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