From Assistant Secretary of State Arthur E. "Gene" Dewey
My resignation from the Department of State became effective on June 30. Looking back over the past three and a half years of my tenure, we can all take pride in some key missions accomplished
The liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq has led to the repatriation of over four million refugees. The resolution of conflicts in Africa has led to hundreds of thousands of returns there, with the prospect of many more to come. The number of refugees in the world is lower now than it has been at any time in the past two decades
The United States refugee admissions program has been revitalized, overcoming major challenges in the changing nature of the refugee population and adapting to post-9/11 security concerns.
The number of refugees resettled in the United States increased by more than 87% from fiscal year 2003 to fiscal year 2004, and fiscal year 2005 will exceed the previous year’s total.
We continue to be the largest single donor to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Achieving better burden sharing from donor partners has permitted us to maintain a consistent 25% contribution level – thus keeping the faith with the American taxpayer. We have developed UNHCR’s capabilities to address sexual and gender-based violence. The increased number of UNHCR "protection officers" is directly attributable to our efforts
Effective cooperation between civilian and military authorities is key to success in post-conflict reconstruction. Bosnia continues to be the model Army Civil Affairs Operation. Afghanistan was problematic at the outset but progress is taking place in provincial reconstruction. We are trying to get Civil Affairs to identify projects while NGOs and other civilians implement them. Civil military interoperability – not integration – is the key to achieving unity of effort.
We’ve seen that there is always room for effective creativity in relief efforts. The Afghan Conservation Corps helps meet the employment needs of returnees while restoring Afghanistan’s natural environment. Human rights monitors in Darfur, while still too few in number, act as the "eyes and ears" of the international community.
We’ve pushed for international organizations to rethink their approach to crises. With one agency in the lead, the players will be more accountable and effective. Internally displaced persons, too often neglected, have the most to gain from such a lead agency initiative. We are also articulating a clearer facilitation role for the Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
To increase international burden sharing and to achieve a common operating picture, we launched humanitarian dialogues with India, Japan, China, and other partners. U.S.-European Union Cooperation in Africa is helping Liberia back onto its feet.
Through program funding and active participation in regional migration policy dialogues, we have contributed to the global fight against trafficking in persons and improved international cooperation intended to make migration safe, legal, and orderly.
In our population negotiations with China, we have moved the ball within kicking distance of the goal posts.
My service as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration has been, in many ways, the culmination of a career dedicated to achieving operational and financial productivity on behalf of conflict victims. From my military service through positions with the United Nations and in the non-governmental sector, I have seen how one person, and small teams of persons, can make a difference. Key to my work in PRM has been the provision of running room for each PRM staff member to be able to have an impact and make a difference. They have clearly been able to make that difference – within our PRM lane of responsibility and across all the other lanes that touch us. There are many others to thank, including the thousands of Americans who make the refugee resettlement program a model for the world, and the international staff of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the other organizations that provide the daily care that refugees deserve. Finally, my wife Priscilla has lovingly tolerated my peripatetic military/diplomatic/humanitarian life, and I am grateful to her for that, and much, much more.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
Remarks on World Refugee Day
June 15, 2005
Thank you very much, Mr. Doherty. It's really a pleasure to join the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the National Geographic Society in celebrating World Refugee Day 2005. Together we salute the courage of the world's refugees and all those who work and help to protect them.
It is fitting that the new UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, should take up his challenging new assignment today. I look forward to working with him and continuing the strong relationship that the United States has enjoyed with the UNHCR.
The commitment of the United States to protecting and assisting refugees is deep and abiding. This commitment is a part of our nation's history and it goes to our very core values. The American people can be proud and the United States remains the UNHCR's largest donor, contributing more than three times as much as any other government in 2004. Thus far, the American people have contributed over $250 million to the UNHCR through its government and hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funds to other humanitarian organizations.
More refugees have resettled in the United States than in any other country in the world. Last year alone, more than 52,000 refugees were resettled here. Communities across our country have opened their doors and their hearts to refugees, helping them to begin new lives in safety and in freedom.
President Bush is committed to ensuring that the United States remains a global leader for refugees. You can find no stronger supporter of the UNHCR's work than the President, with perhaps one exception. I now have the honor of sharing a letter from First Lady Laura Bush, whose compassion for the world's refugees is matched only by her devotion to their cause. The First Lady's letter reads:
"Dear Friends, this year, World Refugee Day spotlights the courage refugees display when forced to flee their homes, set up a life in a foreign land and finally take the arduous journey of returning home or being resettled in another country to start life anew.
"Since the earliest days of our country, the United States has benefited from the contributions to our society made by the many courageous refugees who have resettled here over the years. For 55 years, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has done an outstanding job of drawing public attention to the lives of millions of refugees worldwide. Events like World Refugee Day help to provide both the information and the inspiration necessary to motivate the world community to take action.
"To every participant in the World Refugee Day Poster Contest, President Bush and I send our admiration for your interest in UNHCR's Education Project and the investment of your time and talents on behalf of this great cause. We are also touched by the many imaginative ways that American schoolchildren express their heartfelt concern for their neighbors, including those half a world away.
"To today's contest winners, we send our warmest congratulations. Thank you for your creative work and generosity of spirit, and thanks to that, the message of need and hope will spread to countless people and the lives of refugees throughout the world will benefit.
"The President and I extend our best wishes to each person in attendance at this important commemoration of hope and compassion. May you enjoy your time together and leave with a renewed sense of purpose and possibility.
"With warmest regards, Laura Bush."
Ladies and gentlemen, the theme of this year's World Refugee Day Celebration -- Courage -- is apt indeed. Each of the 17 million refugees and other persons of concern to the UNHCR has a story of courage to tell. Some were driven from their homes to avoid warring factions, others to escape persecution or physical or mental or sexual abuse at the hands of the government or rebel forces. Some saw family members slaughtered before their very eyes and their homes and livelihoods destroyed. Boys and girls, some not even ten years old, had to flee across borders to avoid being conscripted as child soldiers.
Yet, even as refugees struggle each day to survive, their resilience, their strength and their humanity teach us a profound lesson in courage. Today, we also applaud the bravery of the men and women of the UNHCR who put their lives on the line to perform their vital humanitarian mission. UNHCR, we honor you for the magnificent way you carry out your noble and necessary work.
It's also very fortunate that the world's refugees have such a dedicated and effective advocate in UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie. She has visited the displaced in over 15 countries and on five continents. Thank you, Ambassador Jolie, for helping to raise the world's awareness of refugees and for your support for UNHCR's lifesaving mission.
It is also my great honor to share the stage today with a real life hero, Paul Rusesabagina, and I also want to say that we talked outside and we decided that 50 isn't so old; it means you're simply mature. (Laughter.)
Paul, you have shown us what true courage is in the face of evil. When Rwanda descended into genocide, you, a hotel manager, found the courage to shelter over 1,200 refugees from certain death, putting your own life in grave jeopardy. This story should give us all the courage to rise to the moral challenges that come our way.
The young poster contest winners we applaud today have answered the call of conscience in an exceptionally creative way. They remind us that all of us can find ways to help the world's displaced. Congratulations to Jessica Shenoi and Vicente Echeverria and to Katherine Ricker. I join President and Mrs. Bush in urging all who enjoy the blessings of security, prosperity and freedom to give your support to the millions of men and women and children who are forced to flee into an uncertain future.
Today, on World Refugee Day 2005, we join caring people around the globe in renewing our pledge to keep the hope of the world's refugees alive. Thank you very much.
Developing Community Through Joining Efforts
From Save the Children/Armenia
"Due to this program we learned that together we can create real change!"
These words come from Shahen Zakharov, one of the 190 residents of Collective Center at Komitas 49/4 in Yerevan, Armenia. He has lived here for more than 15 years. The building was built in 1973 and had not been renovated since then. The building was completely deteriorated. The roof was leaking, causing dampness in the upper floor apartments, the doors and windows were either broken or stolen, the corridors and stairwells were in terrible condition, and the drinking water and sewage systems did not function.
The vast majority of the residents of the Collective Center fled from Baku to Yerevan in 1989-91 during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict escalation. They constituted one of the most vulnerable groups of the country’s population and were unable to meet even their basic living needs.
In summer 2004, Save the Children Armenia, in cooperation with the non-governmental organization "Mission Armenia," started the "Collective Center Rehabilitation Project," funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. The project aimed to promote community development and improve living conditions through sustainable and quality renovations.
In March 2005 the Collective Center at Komitas 49/4 and eight other buildings were selected for the project. A Community Action Group was formed to organize and manage the project activities. Twenty-eight vulnerable residents were provided with temporary jobs participating in the renovation work, which started in April. The community made a significant contribution to the work by funding more than 18% of the project cost.
The roof of the Collective Center was fully replaced, corridors, stairwells, doors and windows were renovated and painted, and electric wiring, water and sewage pipes were installed.
I participated in the renovation of the fourth and fifth floors," said Shahen, "and I got paid for it. By the way, did you see the color of the walls in the corridors? I chose it. This work enhanced community consolidation and I am very happy that I made my contribution."
Speaking to the residents of the renovated building, Sarge Cheever, the Regional Representative of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, said, "This is your project, and it was implemented due to your joint efforts. The most important thing is that you have successfully worked to complete it. You have done it for yourselves."
The success of this project was that the renovation activities were performed very quickly and very well, due to the active participation of the community," added Irina Saghoyan, Save the Children /Armenia Country Director.
Combating Trafficking in Persons: The Role of PRM
On June 3, 2005, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice released the 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report, a comprehensive report on human trafficking around the world. The publication, available at www.state.gov/g/tip, provides in-depth analysis of national efforts to combat trafficking, including a summary of what is being done in the United States. The Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) contributes to anti-trafficking efforts overseas and to programs that help trafficking victims in the United States
Trafficking in persons is a modern-day form of slavery, involving victims who are typically forced, defrauded, or coerced into sexual or labor exploitation. It is among the fastest growing criminal activities, occurring both worldwide and in individual countries. Annually, at least 600,000 - 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked across borders worldwide, including 14,500 - 17,500 persons into the United States
Over the past seven years, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration has provided over $20 million in support of counter-trafficking programs focused on activities to prevent trafficking and to provide protection and assistance to trafficking victims. The Bureau's chosen implementing partner for most activities is the International Organization for Migration, IOM. In fiscal year 2005, the Bureau anticipates providing IOM with just under $3 million to continue this cooperation. The funds will be used globally for a variety of projects. For example, in the Western Hemisphere, the Bureau will fund programs to prevent trafficking through awareness-raising campaigns and to improve government-to-government cooperation in preventing trafficking and prosecuting traffickers. In Asia, the Bureau will continue to support the "Bali Process," which was started by Australia and Indonesia to combat migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons in South-East Asia.
The Bureau will also continue support for reintegration of victims of trafficking who cannot be reunited with their families, either because they were too young when trafficked to remember where they came from, or because their families reject them. In South Asia, PRM supports an income-generating project for returned victims, helping them to learn business skills and acquire low interest loans. In Africa, PRM assists in the development of anti-trafficking activities in the Southern Africa Development Community, and has funded a project in Ghana to assist children trafficked to work in fisheries. Programs the Bureau funds in Europe train Catholic and Orthodox religious and lay officials in trafficking prevention and victim assistance.
PRM also funds IOM for activities in support of President Bush’s $50 million anti-trafficking initiative, which he announced at the UN General Assembly in 2003. The initiative focuses on eight countries, and PRM is active in five of those: Cambodia; India; Indonesia; Mexico; and Tanzania. (The other target countries are Brazil, Moldova, and Sierra Leone.)
A recent initiative of the Bureau supports trafficking victims within the United States. IOM, with Bureau funding, is working with non-governmental organizations, law enforcement agencies, faith-based organizations, refugee and migrant groups, and U.S. government agencies to provide comprehensive return, reintegration, or reunification assistance to trafficked individuals. Trafficking victims who wish to remain in the United States and meet eligibility criteria (as defined in the Trafficking Victim Protection Act of 2000) can request that certain family members receive visas to join them in the United States. IOM will in these cases provide financial and logistical support for the travel.
Another PRM contribution to IOM assists with repatriation of trafficking victims when the country to which they have been trafficked does not have its own program. From August 2000 through April 2005, 320 victims have been helped home through IOM’s global fund for trafficking victims. More than 80% of those victims were female, and more than half were age 25 or younger. The two largest groups of victims were Malaysians trafficked to Indonesia, and individuals from the Dominican Republic taken to Argentina.
Fiscal Year 2005 Admissions Statistics
||FY 2005 Regional Ceiling
||June 2005 Arrivals
||Arrivals in FY 2005 as of 06/30/05|
|Europe & Central Asia
|Latin America & Caribbean
|Near East & South Asia
President Bush has authorized the admission of up to 70,000 refugees for fiscal year 2005, 50,000 regionally allocated and an additional 20,000 unallocated.