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The Caribbean

Where do you work in the region?

The Bureau works with several humanitarian assistance organizations, and with other relevant Department of State and United States Government offices to provide solutions for those individuals who are in need of protection throughout the Caribbean, especially those in vulnerable situations -- such as women, children and migrants found at sea in dangerous circumstances. The Bureau works to raise the visibility of statelessness and encourage Caribbean governments to develop policies to meet humanitarian responsibilities on protection and statelessness.

Haitians and Cubans are the primary groups of concern. Asylum seekers in the Caribbean, who are often stranded while trying to get to the U.S., however, come from all regions of the world, including Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Over the last two years, the Bureau has supported activities to address the needs of asylum seekers in the Dominican Republic, to study root causes of migration outflows from Haiti, and to raise awareness about protection issues for Haitians in the Bahamas through the Julia V. Taft Fund for Refugees.

What are the major challenges for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region?

In the Caribbean, it can be hard to figure out how to protect the populations in need. For example, some people leave home to escape political persecution. Others go away to make a better living. Some are documented, others not. These people have a different legal status in the countries in which they settle, often based on the reasons they have come. This is called a “mixed migration flow.”

How much Bureau funding went to projects in your region in fiscal year 2007 (October 2007 – September 30, 2008)?

The Bureau obligated approximately $37 million for the Western Hemisphere, of which $4.7 million was spent on Caribbean protection programs and activities.

Where are your refugee coordinators based? Which countries do they cover?

There is a refugee coordinator located in Havana who heads our Cuban refugee admissions program. All other Caribbean programs and activities are conducted and monitored by a team of officers located in Washington DC.

Which are the largest and/or most complex projects you fund?

For a number of years, the Bureau has supported regular conferences organized and facilitated jointly by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which bring together Caribbean countries to share best practices and discuss mixed migration flows, mass migration preparedness and protection and asylum issues.

Which international organization (IO) and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners are active in your region?

In 2008, the Bureau inaugurated the Julia V. Taft Fund for Refugees in honor of the late Julia Vadala Taft, who served as Assistant Secretary to the Bureau from 1997 to 2001.

The international organizations and non-governmental organizations that received funding through the Julia V. Taft Fund for Refugees included Jesuit Refugee Services and Catholic Relief Services in the Dominican Republic, the International Organization for Migration in Haiti and the Bahamas Human Rights Network.

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