The United States Commemorates the 17th Annual World Refugee Day

The United States is proud to be the largest provider of humanitarian assistance worldwide, partnering with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Program (WFP), and a number of other international and non-governmental partners.  U.S. humanitarian assistance totaled more than $7 billion in fiscal year 2016, including funding from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  U.S. assistance provides urgent, life-saving services, including child protection programs, women’s protection and empowerment activities, food, shelter, healthcare services, and access to clean water for millions of displaced and crisis-affected people, including refugees worldwide.  This commitment to the world’s most vulnerable individuals remains a critical component of U.S. policy.

Global humanitarian efforts are of vital importance and continue to urgently need a global response.  Fortunately, the vast majority of refugees and displaced persons receive protection and assistance in the countries to which they have fled and the U.S. provides the vast majority, around 83%, of its humanitarian assistance funding to organizations helping refugees and other displaced populations in countries close to their homelands so that refugees and displaced populations may return home safely and voluntarily if and when conditions allow.  In supporting vulnerable populations overseas, the United States provides assistance where it is needed most and enhances stability in volatile regions. Through this humanitarian leadership, the U.S. also continues to emphasize the need for host and donor governments to do their part to address humanitarian crises.

The U.S. government, for example, is the largest humanitarian donor in Chad.  In 2016, the United States contributed $119 million to the humanitarian response in Chad, with most of those resources providing life-saving assistance to the 398,000 refugees living in Chad.  In 2017, the U.S. government has continued its commitment to assist the Government of Chad respond to the needs of refugees and surrounding host communities.  For nearly 15 years, the government and people of Chad have demonstrated their gracious hospitality and sacrifice to those seeking refuge.  As highlighted by the participation of His Excellency President Idriss Déby Itno at the 2016 Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in New York, Chad is an international leader on refugee protection, and the United States is proud to continue its partnership with Chad to provide assistance and to find durable solutions to the refugee crisis.

A truly global response, with the increasing financial support of multiple nations, is critical.  The United States is committed to focusing on expanding the number of donors and increasing global contributions to humanitarian appeals as well as advocating for humanitarian access wherever necessary. The U.S. will continue to stress that all responses to refugee and migration challenges should focus on saving lives, providing timely humanitarian assistance, ensuring that the human rights of all migrants are respected, and promoting regular, orderly and humane migration policies.

Around the world and in the United States, refugees have for many years positively contributed to the communities that welcome them.  The U.S. applauds those refugee-hosting countries that are making generous and critical contributions in support of refugees, and those countries that recognize that refugees can make positive contributions to their host countries.  The U.S. also welcomes efforts by host nations to increase opportunities for refugees to thrive in their host communities, including through increased access to labor markets, expansion of access to local education, and an increased ability to benefit from national services. The United States recognizes that finding ways for refugees to work legally can benefit local economies, as those refugees are provided the chance to contribute to their communities.

The United States has historically been a world leader in refugee resettlement. Since 1975, the U.S. has offered new beginnings to more than 3.3 million refugees, including an average of approximately 58,000 refugees annually in the last 15 years alone. However, refugee resettlement is the solution for only a small percentage of the world’s refugees, with only one half of one percent of all refugees resettled to third countries.  Resettlement is a critical component of U.S. humanitarian policy, a vital public-private partnership, and a crucial solution for the world’s most vulnerable refugees, but it is not the primary goal of the United States’ humanitarian assistance.  The primary goal of U.S. humanitarian assistance to refugees and displaced people worldwide is to save lives and to ensure that vulnerable individuals are protected and can meet their basic needs in the places to which they have fled. Through the full array of our assistance, the United States will continue to help the world’s most vulnerable refugees, consistent with the generosity of the American people.