The number of refugees in the world has climbed in the past year to nearly 16 million. Afghans, Palestinians, Iraqis, Burmese, Somalis and Sudanese are among the largest populations.
The U.S. is working with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other international and non-governmental organizations to assist those who have been driven from their homes out of fear of persecution on account race, religion, nationality, political belief, or membership in a particular social group.
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration provides protection, assistance and sustainable solutions for refugees and victims of conflict around the world, including voluntary repatriation, local integration, and resettlement in the United States.
In fiscal year 2008, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration provided more than $1 billion to assistance programs – basic life-saving programs including water, shelter, and health care – for millions of refugees, displaced persons, and victims of conflict around the world.
The United States Government has supported the voluntary return and reintegration of over one million refugees into Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mauritania, and southern Sudan over the last several years. More than 275,000 Afghans returned from Pakistan and Iran in 2008. When refugees are unable to return safely to their homes, local integration into the country to which they have fled continues to be an important solution in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Less than one percent of refugees worldwide are ever resettled in a third country. Nonetheless resettlement is a key protection option for the most vulnerable groups of refugees who can neither go home nor remain in the countries to which they have fled. It also offers refugees the opportunity to reunite with family members who may already have resettled.
The U.S. remains the largest resettlement country in the world. Last year, more than 60,000 refugees started their lives anew in the United States; more than 2,700,000 refugees have been resettled in the United States since 1975.
The U.S. commitment to protecting and assisting refugees is deep and abiding. It is part of our history and goes to the core of what the United States stands for.