Migration and Refugee Assistance

$3.4 billion*

Minimum Requirement for American Leadership

Migration and Refugee Assistance is the primary account in the U.S. budget that deals with refugee crises overseas and supports efforts to address broader displacement. At a time of record numbers of forcibly displaced persons and refugees, the humanitarian assistance, refugee resettlement and humanitarian diplomacy functions funded by this account are needed now more than ever.

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Justification for Funding

  • UNHCR estimates that as of the end of 2016 the number of forcibly-displaced people was the highest in recorded history: 65.6 million people, including 22.5 million refugees, more than half of whom are under 18 years old. 20 people are forcibly displaced every minute as a result of conflict or persecution.
  • In 2016, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) contributed more than $3.4 billion to humanitarian efforts, positioning the U.S. as a leader in responding to global crises by providing shelter, education, food, water, and protection to displaced populations.
  • The recommended funding level of $3.359 billion would ensure assistance continues in conflict-affected areas of the world, such as the Middle East, that often receive less yet face similar human suffering. It would also enable continued support for multilateral partnerships.

Cost of Cuts Below $3.4 Billion

President and Congress Budget Comparison

       Congressional Budget   

       President's Budget Request (Base + OCO)

  • The President’s budget cuts would imperil assistance for 3.2 million refugees and IDPs globally.
  • Of the 6.4 million school-age children (5-17) under UNHCR’s mandate, more than half – 3.5 million – are out of school, while education is one of the least-funded humanitarian sectors. Cuts in PRM funding would rob even more children of learning. 
  • The President’s budget assumes carryover funding that has dwindled to low levels. However, demands on PRM’s account are only increasing with the mass displacement of Rohingya from Myanmar since August 2017 and several other refugee crises worsening in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.


$3.6 billion

Opportunity to Catalyze American Leadership


Justification for Additional Funding

  • More than 688,000 Rohingya have crossed the border from Myanmar to Bangladesh, representing one of the most rapidly developing refugee crises seen in years
  • In 2017, displacement crises accelerated in South Sudan, with conflict producing an additional 1 million refugees in just one year’s time between January 2017 and January 2018. The appeal for this regional refugee crisis is currently only 34% funded.
  • The situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has also rapidly deteriorated, deepening a displacement crisis in central Africa. Currently, there are 623,000 refugees from the DRC across the region and a total of 4.35 million internally-displaced people, a figure that has doubled since 2015.

Impact of 7% More Funding

65.6 million
people have been forcibly displaced as of the end of 2016 — the highest number in recorded history.

  • Additional funding beyond FY18 would begin to address the massive, new crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
  • There are 22.5 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2016 – a number which will certainly increase when final 2017 estimates come in with multiple cross-border displacements occurring during the year. This represents an increase of at least 1.2 million from 2015, 3 million from 2014, and 6.5 million from 2007.
  • 84% of refugees are hosted in developing countries, with 28% hosted in countries considered among the least developed in the world. Increased support to refugees and host communities will help alleviate the strain on host countries, which imperil development objectives.

*Enacted FY18 Omnibus Appropriation

For more information, please contact: Tom Buttry, tbuttry@interaction.org

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