Through the U.S. State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and other partners, Migration and Refugee Assistance funds mitigate and resolve conflict-related displacement and support humanitarian action and diplomacy for displaced populations.
What does it buy?
Funds help stabilize volatile situations and strengthen bilateral relationships with key refugee-hosting countries. They help meet the basic human needs of displaced people, including refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons (IDPs); support sustainable and dignified solutions to their displacement; and assist the countries hosting them. Durable solutions include the voluntary return of refugees to their place of origin if the conditions permit, safely remaining in the location of displacement with integration into host communities, or resettlement to a third country. Funds also support the admission, reception, and placement of refugees to the U.S.
Why is it important?
Conflict and persecution forcibly displace nearly one person every three seconds (both IDPs and refugees), amounting to 79.5 million people forced to flee worldwide.
Crises that force people to leave their homes occur more frequently and last longer. UNHCR estimates that the average length of a major protracted refugee situation is now 26 years. Twenty-three of the 32 protracted refugee situations at the end of 2015 have lasted for more than 20 years.
Access to livelihoods and educational opportunities is crucial to preventing a generation of children from missing the chance for a better future and ensuring that families can recover from disaster and build stronger, more prosperous communities.
Over 742,000 Rohingya from Myanmar have been displaced to Bangladesh, and more remain in Myanmar, living in inhumane conditions. Natural hazards in Bangladesh risk worsening their temporary living conditions, making this funding vital to securing safety and other support now while conditions in Myanmar are established to facilitate an eventual safe, voluntary, and dignified return to the Rohingya’s home.
5.4 million refugees and migrants have fled Venezuela, including 650,000 asylum seekers, with the refugee response meeting only roughly half the needs of those affected.
40% of the world’s displaced population are children.
Why should Americans care?
Third-country refugee resettlement supported by the U.S. State Department has been a net economic benefit to the United States. Individual U.S. refugees are estimated to contribute more than $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over 20 years.
The U.S. has a long history as a leader in offering resettlement opportunities to those fleeing violence and persecution, giving it global credibility with other countries in calling for refugees’ protection.
As of December 2020, there are over 25 million refugees in camps worldwide who face particularly acute obstacles in the fight against COVID-19.
Due to pandemic-related border closures, only 15,425 refugees were resettled globally between January and September of 2020, compared to over 50,000 during the same period in 2019.
New cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in a camp in Jordan, where 40,000 Syrian refugees live in cramped conditions.
What more could be done?
Lower-income countries such as Uganda and Ethiopia host 84% of refugees, with the lowest-income countries hosting 28% of the global total. These countries are ill-equipped to handle large in-flows of people and struggle to provide for their own citizens. Additional investment would allow the U.S. to assist a historic number of refugees and IDPs around the world and mitigate the impact of refugee outflows on developing host-country nations.
The U.S. should increase the number of refugees resettled in line with historical norms of 95,000 annually. Given that security vetting and other operational updates are in place to resume good faith operations of the resettlement program, the U.S. should do its part to respond to the worst refugee crisis in global history.
Funding levels may not accurately reflect those in the appropriations bills and/or reports due to rounding.