Who is a Refugee?
“Refugee” is a legal term used to define an individual who:
“...owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
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Current Refugee Crisis
At the end of 2015, the UNHCR reported that there are more than 65.3 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people worldwide – the highest level ever recorded. Of the 65.3 million displaced, 21.3 million are refugees, over half of whom are children.
The United Nations has deemed this the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. While the crisis in Syria has dominated the media, it is important to remember, hold in prayer, advocate for, and support refugees from conflict zones across the globe - as well as the countries that host them.
The largest refugee populations are from Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan and South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The largest internally displaced populations are found in Colombia, the DRC, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria. The top refugee-hosting countries include Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, and Uganda.
Resettlement is the last option for any refugee, when it is not possible for the refugee to return home or to integrate into the country which first offered asylum. Resettlement is a long and arduous process, an opportunity available to only a tiny fraction of refugees. In fact, at current rates of resettlement, less than 1% of refugees will ever be resettled.
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The United States Resettlement Program
The U.S. resettlement program, known as the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), is an interagency effort involving many departments of the federal government, as well as domestic and international NGO’s, including faith-based organizations. It is based in a strong model of public-private partnership.
The United States has long been the international leader in refugee resettlement. Along with the United States, the following nations are also considered traditional resettlement states: Australia, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands.
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom established resettlement programs in the last decade, and more recently, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, Romania and Uruguay have formally announced the establishment of resettlement programs.
Domestically, nine resettlement agencies work in this partnership with the federal government. Episcopal Migration Ministries, the refugee resettlement service of The Episcopal Church, is one of these agencies.
Political pushback, misunderstandings, and misrepresentations of the program and of refugees were an issue throughout the recent campaign season; immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and others who appear to be of immigrant heritage are facing discrimination, bigotry, and threats. Advocacy and support for refugee resettlement and for your immigrant, refugee, and Muslim neighbors have never been more important. Learn more about The Episcopal Church’s advocacy ministry at http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/.
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Episcopal Migration Ministries
Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), the refugee resettlement service of The Episcopal Church, is a living example of the Church’s commitment to be a presence of hope, comfort, and welcome to refugees.
Each year, Episcopal Migration Ministries, through a network of 30 local organizations, provides a wide spectrum of services, including resettlement, employment, intensive medical and mental health services, and volunteer programs to enhance community navigation and integration, to thousands of refugees, asylees, special immigrant visa holders, and Cuban/Haitian entrants.
These new Americans rely upon this assistance and support as they rebuild their lives in security and peace in communities across the United States. In addition to Episcopal Migration Ministries’ collaboration with local partner organizations, EMM staff members equip, support, and empower dioceses, congregations, and individuals to learn about and find their own place in the welcoming ministry of refugee resettlement.
If you, your congregation, or diocese would like more information about Episcopal Migration Ministries’ work and ways you can be involved, please contact Allison Duvall, Manager for Church Relations and Engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 716-6027.
Additional information, videos, and resources about The Episcopal Church’s refugee resettlement work through Episcopal Migration Ministries may be found at www.episcopalchurch.org/emm. A list of our resettlement partners may be found at http://bit.ly/EMMpartners.