Friday, May 08, 2009

Refugees: Leading refugee group urges more humanitarian aid for refugees

Refugee Council USA (RCUSA), America's leading coalition of non-profit organizations working to protect the rights of refugees, commended the proposed increases in funding for refugees and internally displaced persons in the Obama Administration's fiscal year 2010 budget.

The proposed increases reveal a commitment to begin to address the needs of refugees and displaced persons in the regular budget and not rely on supplemental funding to fill the gaps midway through the year. Such an approach would help ensure more effective program planning and delivery in 2010. Still, the President's request will not meet all identified needs and priorities. Substantial additional funding will be required. RCUSA pledged to work with Congress and the Administration in the coming months to ensure that these additional increases are appropriated to address the humanitarian and protection needs of the world's refugees both overseas and here in the United States.

"Refugee Council USA is encouraged by the overall increase in the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA), International Disaster Assistance (IDA), and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) accounts. This is especially welcome at a time when the number of refugees and displaced people in the world - as well as their needs - are growing," Robert J. Carey, Chair of Refugee Council USA, stated. The number of refugees worldwide is increasing and now nearly reaches 14 million - many of whom have lived in refugee camps for several years and without sufficient access to food, shelter, and livelihoods. Internally displaced people (people who have been forced from their homes because of war or conflict but remain in their home countries) now number over 34 million.

RCUSA is pleased that the United States is committed to continuing its leadership role in offering protection, assistance, and resettlement to refugees who have been persecuted and forcibly displaced from their homes and families. This sends a strong message to the world that humanitarian response is a top priority for the new administration. Still, RCUSA urges that in addition to the $1.48 billion requested by the President for MRA, $570 million in additional funding be provided for ongoing emergencies in Darfur and Iraq and increased expected needs in Pakistan and Afghanistan. An additional $240 million is needed above the $880 million that the Administration requested for IDA to address grave emergencies in Sri Lanka and Somalia.

While we are encouraged by the proposed modest increase in funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement to $741 million, RCUSA believes that providing additional funding of at least $208 million would help ensure that there are resources necessary to properly address the needs of refugees resettled in the United States. The current economic crisis, which affects millions of Americans, has had an especially damaging impact on vulnerable refugees offered protection and safety by the United States Government. "Chronic under-funding of the resettlement program, coupled with lack of jobs in the current economy, is undermining refugees' abilities to quickly integrate into their new lives in the United States. Refugee Council USA strongly urges that the funding made available to ORR be sufficient to meet the needs of resettled refugees," said Carey. Ensuring adequate funds are provided to the domestic refugee program is critical for the United States to carry out a comprehensive international humanitarian response.

SOURCE Refugee Council USA
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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