are considered refugees, according to the UNHCR
-United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
In short, a refugee is a person who has fled their home country because of persecution.
The world is witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. The Middle East, North Africa, and Western Asia are particularly hard hit. Millions of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Yemen are fleeing violence and war in their countries. The current crisis that we hear the most about are refugees in Syria, and for good reason.
Approximately 6.6 million people are internally displaced of Syria's 22.85 million residents. Many are fleeing to neighboring countries, who often do not have the infrastructure to support such a large influx of people. In Lebanon 1 in 5 people is a Syrian refugee.
Syria has attracted national attention today, but the refugee crisis has been ongoing for a number of years all around the world:
It can be difficult to comprehend such horrifying truths about our world and know how to take action. Every crisis needs attention. Every crisis involves people in need. Yet, many of the refugees we see on the media will not touch the soil of a new country anytime soon. With 17 years being the average time spent living in a refugee camp, today's crisis will be archived news by the time those fleeing are beginning life in a new place.
At Global Neighborhood, our response to the crisis in our world is to care for those in our city. Thousands of former-refugees call Spokane their home, and hundreds more are arriving each year. It is our goal to provide them with opportunities for holistic development. Caring for those in our city is how we can care for our world. We hope that you will join us.
When large numbers of people flee their homes and congregate in nearby safe places, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) helps set up and administer camps and services to assist people. Most stay in these places for many years, an average of seventeen, hoping their homeland will regain enough stability for them to return. Those not able to return home go through an extensive application and interview process with the UNHCR, hoping to qualify for resettlement in another country.
Refugees accepted by the United States are processed through the U.S. Department of State/Homeland Security, and are then divided amongst ten Voluntary Agencies (VOLAGs) who further disburse cases to their field offices. VOLAGS provide a number of services and are responsible for a good deal of the initial footwork for refugees: getting social security cards, signing up for welfare, immunizations, finding housing, etc. Most medium-sized and larger cities have VOLAGS/ resettlement agencies. Spokane is currently home to one resettlement agency, World Relief. The length of resettlement assistance provided by World Relief in Spokane, by government contract, ranges from 90 to 180 days.
THE WORLD IN OUR CITY
On average, the United States resettles between 60,000 and 80,000 refugees per year. Washington State ranks eighth among states who resettle refugees in the U.S., translating to the arrival of approximately 500 to 600 refugees every year in Spokane- and the number continues to rise (U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration [PRM], Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System [WRAPS]). For more information, visit the UNHCR Statistics Page.
For the first 90 days after refugees arrive, the contracted resettlement agency is responsible for providing them with food, shelter, medical care and other services.
You just started a new life in a foreign place...
YOU CAN'T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE YET
YOU HAVE BARELY BEGUN TO
UNDERSTAND A NEW CULTURE
YOU ARE JUST GETTING
TO KNOW NEW PEOPLE.
AND YOU NEED TO FIND A JOB
THIS IS WHERE GLOBAL NEIGHBORHOOD ENTERS THE PICTURE.
Refugees are people of amazing courage and perseverance who bring a wealth of diversity and culture to our city. We exist as an organization not only to help refugees, but also to learn from them, and we want to extend these same opportunities to you.