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The Global Refugee Crisis

A refugee is a person who has fled home and country to escape death, mistreatment or persecution due to religion, race/ethnic heritage, political beliefs or nationality.

Many countries give refugees safe harbor throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and increasingly, Latin America. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been displaced -- among them, nearly 21.3 million refugees. Over half of the 21.3 million are under the age of 18; 72% women, and children.

Nearly five million people have left Syria; they form the majority of refugees worldwide.

This is the largest number of affected people since the end of World War II. The 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention included a treaty that protects refugees from being returned to their countries if they are at risk of persecution there;

However, the crush of refugees now landing in nearby countries has closed borders, causing refugees to move from country to country before finding a place to settle. Almost half find themselves in refugee camps where they can easily end up staying for years under deplorable conditions.

Less than 1% of refugees get the opportunity to relocate to a new country where they can attempt to re-establish their lives in a new, safe environment. Globally, refugees come from 79 countries facing war or civil conflict, with most coming from Congo, Burma, Syria, Iraq and Somalia.  The largest number of today's refugees, nearly 5 million are Syrian. 

Some Facts: Refugees in the US and New York State

In 2016, the US accepted approximately 85,000 refugees from all over the world, up from 70,000 in 2015. Ten thousand were Syrian.
  • 67 percent were women, and children under the age of 12.
  • The FY2017 Presidential Determination was 110,000; President Trump reduced the FY2018 number by Executive Order, to 50,000.
  • New York State welcomed 4,733 refugees in 2014, with 54 from Syria.
  • 90% resettle upstate where costs are much lower than in the lower Hudson Valley/Westchester County.

Vetting Prior to Entering the United States

The US vetting of refugees is the most rigorous screening in the world. It often takes several years to complete; the safety and security of the American people is always the top priority.

A refugee and his/her family must first decide that they wish to permanently resettle and integrate into a new country and culture. The majority of refugees do not choose to resettle, waiting instead to return home when conditions improve. Once that major decision is firmly made, refugees can apply to the United Nations which in turn works with the US and other nations to select and assign them to a new homeland.

When a refugee family is assigned to the US, the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and the Department of Defense investigate the family.  Individuals are fingerprinted and their identities verified. They are subject to numerous background checks, including checking for prior political or criminal activity. More details at www. uscis.gov/refugee screening.

Before coming to the US refugees participate in Cultural Orientation. Medical exams are conducted to make sure they carry no communicable diseases and to determine what level of US healthcare they will need.

The men, women, and children invited to become Americans are expected to pay for their airfare to the US; they often have to borrow from family or take loans for their travel.  Once they arrive they are legal entrants, fully documented, with many skills; however they often they lack knowledge of English and have little money.

All refugees appreciate the things we often take for granted: Freedom, Security, Opportunities.

For more information and statistics on refugee admissions to the United States, visit wrapsnet.org. Or go to our Learn More page under Refugee Crisis.