One of the most difficult decisions any human being can make is to flee from home, saving one’s life but having to abandon, family and friends (or community), possessions, and too often his identity and validation as a productive member of society.
The greatest numbers of recent refugees come from Syria, Mali and Sudan.
Yet last year, some 1.1 million people fled their countries of origin and 6.8 million became displaced internally: the highest number of newly displaced refugees during any 12-month period since the beginning of the 21st century, exceeding the record set in 2011. Most are people escaping armed conflict and political violence. In the final days of 2012, they numbered 43.7 million.
The greatest numbers of recent refugees come from Syria, Mali and Sudan. Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, some 1.6 million Syrians have fled their country, mostly to neighboring nations and to North Africa. Another 4.25 million have been displaced within the country itself. The United States is the leading donor of humanitarian aid to Syria. Including the $300 million recently announced by President Barack Obama, the United States has donated nearly $815 million to assist Syrian refugees and the internally displaced, as well as host communities in neighboring states.
Meanwhile, the conflict in Mali has resulted in nearly 300,000 internally displaced persons and 175,000 refugees in neighboring countries. The U.S. government has provided over $180 million for Malian refugees and the internally displaced.
The United States also continues to support refugees from Darfur who have relocated to eastern Chad, as well as the 265,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled to neighboring South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya over the past two years. The United States has provided over 90 million dollars to meet the emergency needs of these refugees.
The United States has a history of upholding human rights and humanitarian principles. For decades we have led the world in overseas support for humanitarian protection and assistance, and we have provided asylum and refugee resettlement for millions.
In doing so, we show through example our dedication to basic human decency, to our responsibilities under international law, and - along with the rest of the international community - to ensuring refuge when innocent lives hang in the balance. Our commitment to protect and aid refugees is a deep and abiding one. It is at the core of our nation’s values.