The United States is contributing an additional $126.8 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR. This contribution – like the one made earlier this year to UNHCR in the amount of $125 million – is funded through the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and will help support UNHCR’s programs worldwide. The U.S. contribution to UNHCR to date in 2011 now totals more than $250 million.
Whether he or she is a victim of conflict or persecution, to be considered a refugee, a person must have been forced from his or her home and crossed an international border for safety. He or she must also have a well-founded fear of persecution in his or her native country, on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
The U.S. Department of State estimates that over 10 million people world-wide fall into one of these categories. The true number of refugees, however, is most likely far higher. Persecution, conflict and other critical events continue to uproot millions of people around the world.
The U.S. contribution will go toward programs such as refugee repatriation to Afghanistan and Sudan, protection in place, and resettlement of refugees to third countries. Some of the money will provide water, shelter, food, healthcare, and education to refugees, as well as other people under UNHCR's care and protection, such as internally displaced persons, in countries such as Colombia, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Rwanda.
In early April, at a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary year of the United Nations Convention Related to the Status of Refugees, and honoring people of courage who help refugees, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "There is a fundamental base of universal human rights, and we are each called to recognize and protect those."
"We reaffirm America’s commitment to the protection of refugees around the world. Our mission is unchanging. We intend to save lives and restore human dignity."
The United States salutes the vital and courageous work of UNHCR, its many NGO partners, and refugee hosting countries in providing protection to vulnerable refugees around the world. We are proud to contribute to this effort.