tv World Affairs Council of Atlanta CSPAN March 31, 2013 4:50pm-6:00pm EDT
>> next, a look being done at work around the world in resettling refugees. you will hear from the international rescue committee and an immigration attorney. from the world affairs council in atlanta, this is just over one hour. much and thankry united inviting the nations for refugees to speak today. thank you. i've done my fair share of organizing conferences, so i know how hard it is.
unscr. for here andd high school i'm glad to be with you today. and going to speak about our organization and what we do in the field. there was a good overview of the context in the area where we are operating. i havegize in advance -- two small children under the age of three. you see me glancing down, that is why. i want to make sure i don't miss any key points. any parents in the room, i'm sure you can relate. i was going to start with a unicef joke. most people have heard of unicef, but after talking to some of the this morning, it sounds like there's a fair bit of knowledge about the refugee
crisis around the world and the work that we do. about our office here -- i work and the regional office covering that united states and the caribbean. we are largely an advocacy office here and the united states and work closely with the government in all branches and to a lot of outreach. my role here is primarily to respond to inquiries. we work closely with the united states congress and a lot of staffers on capitol hill who are interested in the work we to overseas. my goal is to share information about what we do on a daily basis. 20et questions i heard families moved from camp 82 can't be and south sudan or what are your funding operations in colombia. i tackle issues all over the world.
andy day is different nothing is the same. that is wonderful. i have been fortunate enough to participate on the emergency roster team and i've been here almost eight years. i have been fortunate enough to travel. this is really an emergency organization. they're mostly in the headlines when there are massive outflows. right now, we are grabbing the headlines in europe. you hear a bit about molly, less in that united states. even the operations not in the headlines are just as important to us. the longstanding operation in afghanistan and in latin werica, those are operations work on with as much heart as the ones you hear about.
i worked in afghanistan for almost six months. i also worked on the border with kenya and somalia. i will talk a little about my work there. to share that inspiration behind our colleagues. when i get a chance to speak to people, i want to make sure i share little of what it is like to work in the field and share the inspiration that not only i have but all people that work in the field have. not so long ago, i met a syrian doctor and he had recently come back from a clinic in syria. he shared with me that when he was outside the clinic, he saw a woman leaning her head against the building. he asked her what she was doing here and she said her child was inside. he went inside and met with the
doctors and the child was stable and going to live. he went back outside to the mother and said please go home, your child will be fine. she said the night before all her other children and husband had passed away and she had no where to go. he could not move her from the building. stories like these move myself and all of us working in the refugee field every single day. i still think about that woman. i have kids myself and i know a lot of people working for our organization are haunted by the stories and wake up every day to make a difference. i attend a lot of meetings and take a lot of notes. it still makes a difference to year the human stories and i feel like i can make a difference working here in the united states doing advocacy just as much as some in the field of want to share a little bit about the motivation and why we do what we do.
some of theo cover basic definitions. i was on the panel many years ago and rattled off my presentation and completely forgot to cover what an actual refugee was. i thought i would hit some of the key terms in our community. a person refugees -- for many reasons who were persecuted or had a well founded fear and flag outside the borders of their national country. we talked about internally displaced person, people is stay on the same grounds that stay in the borders of their country. we also have a mandate for stateless people, have no nationality or country to call home and are often in very difficult situations around world.
term, and is the others of concerns. when we talk about refugees, let's take the crisis in syria. the refugees would be the people who fled syria itself. we currently have almost a hundred thousand registered refugees in the region. the numbers are probably higher than that. our staff is working around the clock night and day to accommodate these people. there is also a big change in the way refugee assistance is being held. back in the day, you would see a camp and the refugee would cross the border. 10th and whenever people come to visit, there would be champs and a lot of people think about refugees in
this setting because it's easy to wrap your mind around and it's very popular in the media. you see a camp and you see assistance but a lot of refugees also go into urban settings. a lot of refugees are absorbent to those communities and live in abandoned school buildings and live with host families. refugees a lot of living in lebanon or jordan and iraq and other areas and they are absorbed by the host communities. i want to talk a little more about what we do and where we come from. the united nations commission for refugees was founded in 1956. there was a massive displacement in europe and an organization was created in response to the refugee flows.
find when we talk about protection that i lose people because of a nebulous term. the assistance part is much easier to imagine. a blanket, a cooking stove, basic food items. with officials, making sure the borders remain open, we talked to partners on the ground about what we do and all huge part of our response is the camp management, providing physical and legal protection for these people have fled. we have a staff of almost 7600 people around the world. 75% our national, meaning we country. e from that here in d.c., los of the staff
is national staff. i can't continue without talking about the partnership that we have with nongovernmental organizations. a lot of them are here in the room. but many others,s' domestic that work around the world. we could not do what we do without them. most of them provide key services, education and distribution and we could not do what we do without their help, guidance, and expertise. a little bit about our budget. you are not a donor without an audience. we raise money annually. it makes us accountable. every year we have to demonstrate to our donors, which be governments organizations, but also individuals.
we demonstrate what we did with their money. last year what we did last year and what we plan on doing next year. i hope to say that our agency will strengthen more and more because that means we will not have that many more people to take care of, unfortunately we've been growing. i want to mention other interesting facts but i was running my presentation by anyone and they said anyone can read off facts, what is something you learned that you cannot read in the paper or something that is ease ya digestable. we have websites and we have facts and figures about everything. i want to cover a little bit about what i have seen and what the life of a refugee is like. i was there about five months. my job every day was to take donors and the media into the camp to show them how we're
using their funds. every time i would get a fairly green official from some country to come to the camp and to take a look. they would land on the plane and we would drive through town. they all said that the i did it not realize that the refugee camp is so close to the airport. a lot of the host communities live like they do at the camp. it is very poor. it is in the desert. there's no paved roads, it is extremely remott. then i take them to our field offices in the camp because that's where it starts. when you roof early in the morning, you get to the field office and you sigh newly arrived rfpblgts -- refugee
families sitting in front of the office. sometimes it is not an office sometimes it is a shed to provide protection if for the sun. families will sit there in the morning. sometimes we have 100 people sitting there or sometimes we have 500-600 people there. we have security officers come out and they look for women who are by themselves, they look for children who are by themselves, minors and we look for vulnerable cases in the crowd. then we hand out numbers and we tell this refugees this is the order we're going to be registering them. the first thing we want to do is give them a registration number and give them a food ration card. we ask them where they came from, what their names are, how many people are in their families. they meet with a colleague. we sit down with them and we
take their data. then we also refer them to services. that's where the work of our partnerings is so key. if they have children, we tell them about the schoolses, we tell them about the partners, if they are handicapped, so we provide them with services they need. the the campake in they can get a plot of land and they can build their homes. that give you a sense of what we dode in the fields and what our daily life looks like working with the people. it is hard to cover everything but it give you a sflap shot of what we see and what we do. -- snapshot of what we see and what we do. our staff travels to the camp every day. some work seven days a week.
they work from sunrise to sundown. most of the time, if you walk around the compound late at night all of our staff is still working. people are so dedicated and committed. you could never talk about -- i have a hard time talk about the difficult staff conditions, because the life of a refugee is more difficult. but our staff, not only our staff but the staff of our partners, go through incredible condition to delev the aid that we do every day. it is physical difficulty and emotional. a lot of times our staff hears difficult stories day in and day out, which is very hard. so i'm going to conclude about talking about durable solutions and then after that i will hand it over to our colleagues who will handle the meat of what we do here in the u.s.
the voltaire program, which means going home. most refugees want to go home. you do not want to live in a refugee camp. most of the time being hosted by another family, sometimes four or five other families is difficult in an urban context. your children don't speak the same language, your partner doesn't speak the language where you are. it has a lost of difficulties so most people want to come home. a success story, recently -- if you go to our website, we're talking about the completion of the program. weighen to make sure when refugees go home they go home voluntary. we returned 155,000 people back home. so we're happy about that. have a populations, tens of
thousands of people integrated locally. that is unique. we're extremely grateful for that for the re-enter investigation. a lot of host countries are very welcoming, talking about local integration and absorbing the population into their own society is differently. the last thing i want to talk about is resettlement. i will talk about our role. resettlement means when a refugee comes outside the u.s. we process them and we are an advisory. there is less than 1% of all reasonablies worldwide. so that is maybe one in 200. there are many more people who are looking for a durable solution in another cub than
spaces are available. there are about 180,000 people every year that will not be able to go home and who are not being able -- who cannot stay many the host community or host country. a lot of them are vulnerable cases and people who need a helping hand. the united states, australia, canada, and other countries are some of the 20 countries that sorb refugees that are being resettlement resettled. we have colleagues in the field that are settle officers. one of the things they take into consideration is if the family qualifies for resettlement. we refer them to country, united states is one of them and then it is up to the discretion of those governments if they allow the refugees to come here. ur rule stops at the referal
process. i covered the definitions and i talked about what the r.'s life is like. thank you for this opportunity and thank you for being here on a saturday and listening about refugees and we look forward to answering your question, the easy ones. thank you again. [applause] >> good morning. i'm ellen beattie. he international refugee committee whose mission is to work with people who has been displaced by conflict, persecution, an disaster. i would like to go back to the history of the organization. it was founded in 1933 after a request of albert einstein. that was the year that it her
ame to power in germany. albert einstein was looking for a way to get people a way to flee starting then. so the organization was founded to create, sort of something like an underground railroad for people to flee and has been working ever since for 80 years. our original work is the work i'm going to talk about, which is bringing people into the u.s. to provide a safe haven. today, the committee is in 42 countries around the world working with our grope and other partners in refugee camps and other camp-like situations and other urban situations with people displaced. in 22 countries -- excuse me,
cities in the united states as well as people displaced by persecution, such as victims of human trafficking. so we've got the overview and it was an outstanding keynote on the whole description of today. what i want to help you understand is the role of the nited states in humanity efforts. the united states places an extraordinary role internationally with refugees is a major donor all around the world. i'm sure we'll hear more about that. i want to speak to how we work within the united states with refugees. it is a very important piece of public policy in the united states the refugee resettlement policy.
the structure and the shape in the united states is given in this age, i would say through the refugee act of 1980. this is a piece of legislation that went on to base reform off immigration reform. but it is fundamental how things have done for the past 30 years. his was sponsored by senator kennedy and under the carter administration. i would like to think about the circumstances that led up to that act. this was aner rora that the united states were receiving just thousands upon thousands of people fleeing from the war in the fall of saigon and the wars street that sia,
please primarily and cambodian and others. the united states over a decade involvement in that war, which was devastating to the civilian population. it was one of the most grueling wars to the civilian population in memory. people who had been allied with the united states during that war, were then not only victimized and had already been displaced from their homes during the war but then fell to the persecution once the country fell to their enemies. this situation was with the investment on the united states brought out every since of humanitarian need to work with these individuals. and the u.s. civil society jumped in and did become involved, all sorts of church groups around the country started to find ways to host
families. but it was very informal and did not have a good legal structure and there was, you know, there were veterans who were in favor of this and were in great need. we became very involved as a nation, has history told us with this. but in that scenario, which was ery much handing in 1980 and 199 that led up to it. -- 1979 that led up to it. we tried to come up with a policy. it was public private partnership. we found a way for the u.s. government to work in cooperation with the civil society. with our nonprofit organizations, church groups, to channel the power of the civil society, which is so strong in the u.s. it such a charitable tradition
with structure and policy at the governmental policy. the whole program of rest. louis demands that the u.s. government --ks through nonprofit, done organizations. a refugee is not settled in the united states without being sponsored by a nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the state department and other players. that is important to understand. to me, this is a visionary thinking behind this because it would not have the heart and the you saiding and the compassion if it weren't for the community involvement. hat organizations like other committees to is to make the link with the community to welcome people into our communities to provide them with support that goes beyond a check. so wed that foresight to think that way and not try to make it
is as it is in other country, especially in western europe more of a burekic. here it is people with heart. something else is a standard of care. people could come in, not only southeast asians but others from other conflicts and some might be welcomed into the, you know, best conditions with a whole church behind them where others might be trafficked for labor and abused without their rights recognized. the act establishes norms for what kind of conditions refugees that are settling, also have expectations for support for a short amount of time and early self-sufficiency. it created terms in which between public and private funds
will have the same standard of care. to ves them about a six eight month window to be self-sufficient with standards of housing, standards of support with english, standards of employment support and others. it ensures that everyone gets that same level of attention, which is a very important principle of it. then also regulates access. fore -- it meshes with our international policy and our immigration policies. clearly defining who can access the refugee program and how it will be determined and the establishment of the r.s each year. how does it work? the policy is complex. it involves our u.s. state
department who establishes the policy about who will be admitted into the united states s a refugee among with other things. there is an annual president determinations of which groups are of u.s. interest to resettle. this is based on human tear grounds. a large majority who are recognized to be prioritizes for admission are receive reals a from nhcr and there are others admitted by other means or other receival mechanisms. i wanted to say something that tess spoke about. something i want to be clear resettlement.re
anyone who has been displaced by their home and would like to return. but if it is not safe and the conditions are not right it is against the geneva conventions that the u.s. and most countries are agreeing with to send them home. stay many the country where you were displaced to. if you were displaced from syria to turkey stay there. another cub. you're not as far away from home, hopefully it is safe. but around the world in so many locations that place is not safe. it is not welcoming. you don't have any civil rights and it is not a sustainable solution for your wealth there. the third and last solution is for another country to take you. to be able to be taken out of
the unsafe conditions, persecution that may follow you into another country and go to a third. i have to point out a small proportion of thoses. the total u.s., which senior around 70,000 this year will be equal to the sum of other countries in the number of individuals that are resettled. the u.s. play ascii role in resettlement being a small por position of the refugees who exist in the world. ere are other key players in this. e -- this was established in 1980 and is there to regulate a relationship between the u.s. federal government and the states and to help support during the early stages of resettlement and up to five years and to work in
humanitarian support and other humanitarian interests of the united states. this is the connection between the federal government and the state government. it works in anchoring them. once they have been admitted through the state department then to be anchoring them here in the united states in cooperation with organizations like the i.r.c. a third, really important player in the process of admission is he u.s. customs service. they play a key role in the admissions standards. one thing that our legislation sets out, which is important to understand everyone who is admitted as a refugee has to meet the crirer the ya, which independently is also verified by the united states. we verify they are indeed -- they have fled for persecution
and they are in need of resettlement. they can't go home, they can't stay where they are. then we have to make sure they are admissible to the united states on our immigration law, which means they meet all the criteria, we have quite a few criteria who may be admitted and who may not. they have to meet those standards, which included thicks like to be free of infectious diseases, most of them have to pass security clearances at a high level. they have to verify their identity they are going have to show if they are related to other refugees. it is a detailed process of review of every single individual who comes to the united states on this status to make sure they are essentially worthy of it. we partner with them as we do as a nation with the c.d.c., the center of disease control who oversees the medical aspects of
admissions to the united states. so that infrastructure is a lot. i'm going over it quickly. who then is admitted? this is an important part. with who has been served by admission and given a chance to build a new life in the united states. sometimes we have headlines, type of populations that everyone is aware. the people are well-known to individuals. in the aftermath of the war in bosnia, the individuals who came . more recently those who fled the war in iraq in the past decade. we have, some that rise to awareness such as the lost boys of sudan became well-known
across the united states who have undergone tremendous press cushion and escaped as minors. the genocide in another country escaped that horror came to the u.s. we're talking about things that many of you know the devastation behind that. but at the same time, there are many who come from hidden or sometimes called silent wars. people are less aware of it generally across the united states. victims of more -- less well-known persecution. we have enormous histories of war in countries like the democratic republic of congresso. we've been speaking now of the -- of congo and we've been speaking now of the healed lines and not the quite ones. we have history, sometimes behind the situations we don't
realize. there were a lot of people displaced from a nation had that has headlines that is known as the highest happy yeavent seen get there? did they they had the a major ethnic persecution against a large minority and expelled them to become that way. there are quiet ones that are just as much in need. also, people are are looking at people who are victimized individually for their status or sexual orientation or their political stance. it serves across all political spectrums of who is the persecutor. it serves major conflict, it serves minor and unknown conflict and gives a gateway
into this country, where the individuals who are admitted do access full civil liberties, enter with work status and what is an undefined -- not a permanent residency but unlimited residentcy and are fast tracked to citizenship. it is a great opportunity for them to be safe. i'll hand it over to paedia mixon there. [applause] >> i'm paedia mixon. i'm the executive director of the r. resettlement and services of atlanta. we're one of six agencies that welcome refugees into georgia. our mission is to welcome, serve, and empower refugees in georgia. our organization resettles
somewhere between 450-500 refugees per year. i'm going to talk a little bit about how refugee resettlement looks at the local level. i got involved as a family friend volunteer at one of our sister organizations, catholic r. of atlanta. the first refugee family i met was from somalia that was resettled in atlanta. i was a family friend coming into their home to teach english, which i never done before. it was interesting exspeshes. but i spent a year and a half with this family. i had the punt to be with the family as they learn how to avigate the grocery store, one family member got a drivers license. they moved into a home, they got married, had children. it was a really wonderful
opportunity to see human resilience and to meet the most grateful, interesting, creative people that i've ever met in my life. i'm blessed to continue meeting people like this every single day. i'm going to give you a little bit of the nuts and bolts of how we meet these families, how they get to georgia, and what we do when they get here. then i will talk about an overview of how many rfplgs are coming to -- refugees are coming to georgia and some of the successes and the challenges as well. as much as i can fit into 10 minutes. i will pick up where ellen left off. in the united states there are 10 organizations that contract with the u.s. state department to do resettlements.
each of those 10 organizations have a network of affiliates or regionalal offices across the united states. we're affiliates with two of those organizations. basically, once someone has gone through the interview process and has been approved in the initial interview to come to the u.s. as a refugee their biogoes to this network of 10 organizations and each organization has refugees that they are responsible for resettling and they send their bio to an affiliate like us. we get a piece of paper that the us that how many in family, what language they speak, if they have serious health problems. we take if we're going to take the case or not take the case,
whether it is will be successful in atlanta. we usually always take the case. then we may see the family in a month or a year. after that interview there's an entire process after that that includes health screenings, security screens,. refugees take out a travel loan to fly here. one thing we can say is that they arrive in this country in debt so they are true americans. [laughter] that can take a long time. we get about a two weeks notice when their international flight is booked. at that point, we secure an apartment, we furnish the apartment, we greet the family at the airport. we make sure over the first few months that their basic needs are met, they have food, they nderstand how to use the
program, they can get around, they know how to be safe, they know where they are, we help to enroll children in schools, we enroll parents in establish classes. we provide intensive orientation in the first few months. once the family is stable and they have received their social security card, they have a georgia i.d. and they have basic orientation then we work with them on self-sufficiency. ellen talked about this. this is a self-sufficiency program. refugees come here to have a normal life. they want to be able to support their families and earn money and have control where they live and how they live. we want to make that process as easy and fast as possible. so we provide extensive employment orientation, all of
the six resettlement agencies have employment departments that focuses on getting people placed and giving them the skills and information they need to keep that job. that's kind of the same across the board for all of us. then each resettlement organization secures additional funding and support from the community, from the faith community, from local foundation, from individuals, to provide longer term services. -- ces like after-schools after-school programs. we have after-school programs in every georgia school where refugee children are a substantial population.
we have establish language classes to help refugees apply for permanent residents. we have a wide range of programs. we also work closely together, we have a coalition of refugee-serving agencies that meet on a monthly basis so we make sure we're not duplicating services. theyy to meet the needs as arrive. we support one another. that is something unique about georgia. we have a collaboration between service agencies that is not present in other environments so it is a success that we're proud of. ellen talked about the office of refugee reis thelement and unding -- resettlement and funding. we are actually funded through the u.s. state department and
the money comes from our national affiliate organizations. but funding for services after state.mes from the in georgia, it is the department of human services. they have a refugee unit. we also have a state refugee health coordinator in the department of public health. that funding comes from those two programs to provide services like long-term employment services, establish as a second language, some funding for after school, funding for longer term case management, some funding for immigration services. so that's where the state government is involved. the state of georgia doesn't actually provide additional funding for refugee programs. some states do and some don't. the funding passes through the state until georgia. so our state refugee coordinator
who is responsible for coordinating that program to make sure services are provided and to hand the contracts and that sort of thing. so that is very quick nuts and bolts about how the process works in georgia. some of the things we're proud of in georgia, we have -- we are tied with texas for having the early self-sufficiency rate in the country. [applause] in ga, 80% of refugees are working and paying their own expenses with wages earned within 180 days of getting off the airplane. that is amazing. as a refugee serving agency would like to take all the credit for that but refugees are
ideal clients because they didn't get here, you know, easily. when you talk about less than 1% of refugees being resettled, it is the most resilient people who are able to navigate this process and come here. so georgia is a wonderful place for refugees buttle refugees are wonderful for georgia as well. they really enrich the vimet here. le refugees -- there are some myths that refugees depend on public assistance and that is not the case in georgia. most refugees do not enroll in public benefits other than refugee food stamps and refugee medicaid, which are federally funded program. less than o make
.02%. .004% that go on public benefits and those who do go on public benefits stay on the benefits less than six months. this is a group of people who are motivated to work as soon as possible. other things we're proud of in georgia is that refugees here are starting businesses, they are buying homes, they are going back to school. we have wonderful programs here, our organization has a savings match program. we have match savings for those who want to go to school or buy a home or even start a business. we have organizations who are here today who helped 19 families buy a home in the last year and a half.
we helped to start 16 businesses and we've helped over 20 people go back to school. we also have a new micro enterprise program at i.r.c. to help women start child care businesses, which i think is a very exciting program. there's a lot of innovation and collaboration here. we have a great record for early self-sufficiency and we're proud of our program here in georgia. there are challenges in georgia. one of the biggest challenges is the political environment here. i think everyone is aware that georgia is one of those states that passed the antiimmigration legislation. it targets undocumented immigrants, this kind of legislation can be very damaging to those immigrants who come here with legal status as well. our state is also advocated for a reduction in refugee reduction
in georgia. we're the sixth largest resettlement site in the u.s. the southeastern united states is a very population refugee ettlement sites for a lot of reasons. it is because we have affordable housing here. atlanta is a diverse city so it offers a lot of opportunities for people coming from other countries to find accepting communities. we have a very active faith community that partners with resettlement agencies and helps to mentor and welcome refugees in georgia. then we have some key industries in georgia that are big employers of refugees or our
agriculture, our airport is large employer of rfplgs. there's a lot of remembers why this is one of the largest resettlement sites, really organic reasons that comes from what kind of city we are and what kind of environment we have. our state is advocating for fewer refugees coming to georgia and we're not 100% sure why we're that comes from. that is a challenge. we think there are a lot of misconceptions about refugees out there and we want to highlight the great successes we've had and help our state government to understand -- to really understand the program and what a long history georgia has in providing humanitarian service to refugees and how successful refugees have been here. so that's a little bit about
georgia. at this point -- >> i have a follow-up question. think you ladies have amazing presentations. [applause] i think you guys -- or you ladies did a wonderful job explaining the institutional resettlement process from the time a refugee is displaced from their home country to being admitted into the united states and then admitted into a particular city, in this case atlanta. however, there is another form the ones and that is i work with. i was hoping that you could explain the difference between the group i work with and an refugee. then i would like to open it up for questions from the audience. >> so i would say nternationally international
law there is no difference but there is in the u.s. law. as we described people who are resettled, invited into the united states due to their need for resettlement and under the policy of resettlement and enter into the united states holding the refugee status. that is a form of visa with work authorize and a series of other privileges. your group has been given a -- with a us after similar status or without. they may have come on a student visa or another form of visa but when they enter the united states they brought forward to the u.s. their need for asylum. they are seeking are fuge.
they are fleeing and have asked the united states for asylum or refuge in this country. they maybe granted immediately by -- at the border or upon arrival, they can do it later if something arises in a home country. that is not uncommon. they may be admitted through the immigration service from automatic recognition into that or their claim may have to go up through an immigration court procedure. but prior to the grants of asylum they are what we call asylum seekers. it is based on international law prior to the grants of asylum. after the grant for all -- most rposes the saying that a
refugee but there are small variations with that. i would also mention in similar status we have the people who are in the humanitarian parole that is particular countries that we have certain relations or a history with on humanitarian parole and also, we give protection and a similar status toer is fied victims of human trafficking. does that answer your question? >> i think you did a great job. so i would like to open the forum up for questions from the audience. each e two microphones on side of the room. anyone who does have a question, i would invite you now to stand at one of the microphones and we'll try to get through as many questions as we can before we need to move on to the next phase of our program today.
if you guys don't have questions, i have made some of my own. >> thank you very much. it has been extremely insightful. given the complexity of the structure, how do you work with other countries? refugees are all over the world and each country has its own unique structuring environment, especially the third option that you were referring to, which is either ensure they go home otherwise they have to integrate locally really well. or have another country take them so they are actually safe. how do governments work with each other in this context? and i would love to hear your thoughts on that. >> thank you. >> yeah, i think that is between s. settlements specifically or finding solutions? >> both. how does that environment work
because politically there are different agendas on why country is focused more on refugees than others. there is a little bit of a complex environment there. >> that is protracted refugee situations a little bit. most of the refugees operations around the world have large situations. a political solution needs to be found for most problems. we as the humanitarian actors do are not involved in that. we provide assistance and hopefully the governments can come together for the countries that are having the rfplg outflows. this would be the united nations get involved and other european countries and most of them do a lot of negations at the
political level. somalia, there's a lot of efforts to stabilize the country. in mali we're hoping to have more and more returns there. many know that the french went into the country to try to stabilize and work with the people on the ground to get them to go home. i think the first thing is to be a political solution, that is what we aim for and what we encourage our executive committee, which is membership of many many, countries from all over the world encourage political solutions. our high commission is vocal on that front. political issues are number one then we try to make sure we maintain a welcoming environment where the refugees will be long term. unfortunately, there are many refugees in long term
situations. we have refugees inside syria. there's still a lot of people who cannot go home. hopefully, as the international communities provides support inside the country with conflicts, afghanistan is another country. it is still the largest refugee population in the world. afghans are all over the world and they are in pakistan and iran. many are in europe as well. we encourage, again, we hope conditions will be safe for people to go back home. there frankly, is no pretty answer to that question. but again, we are encouraging the countries to come up with political solutions so the refugees can go home. you might want to hit on how it comes into play with other countries. >> from sber national humanitarian law, the countries
that are send to us cannot ask people to return to an unsafe place. unfortunately, for example, afghanistan is a good example. how many many are in pakistan? several million i believe. anybody have that? currently -- it has continued to be for a long time not safe enough to return. so then the unhcr judge the safety of that. they cannot ask them to return if it is not safe. the conditions in pakistan may deteriorate. it may no longer be safe so then the tchearpgs we need to move people, especially after protected would be the window into that third and least favorite possibility in terms of what is best for them, which is resettlement. then it is the small window of the countries that are willing to take, which is the small
freaks of all of that. the opportunity for that is limited and this is based on this is an urgent case. there's a prioration that the group provides to the agency and then the u.s. government prioritizes those to say these are the most urgent ones for now. >> thank you. >> good morning. thanks for the great presentation. each of you spoke about collaborations. i'm wondering if we can go from the global to local and think about other examples of collaborations with the corporate community or stretching that farther with the academic community and addressing some of these issues? >> at a global level, i will touch on that. we have at our headquarters we have an innovations workshop. we have relationships with a lot of corporate institutions,
microsoft, google, many companies come forward and want to help us with innovation. looking at alternatives to our shelter materials, looking at different ways to build sustainable within the community. we work with companies, nonprofits month who want to work on the environment. refugees a lot of times there's an impact on the local environment and things like that. so we work with companies that e involved in creating sustainability. so from environmental to corporate and the livelihood to make sure the refugees have a way to sustain themselves, bringing in additional funds for the families. all levels, we work on that. we do have a lot of corporations who are interested in partnering with nhcr at our headquarters to make sure we're more efficient,
we're more accountable to donors. that is what i know our headquarters works on. >> the partnership is a core value and really there's no way to tackle something as complex as refugee without seeking collective impact of many players. so we partner with a multilevel like the unacr and many others from around the world but also, i underscored before the public/private resettlement program where the committee rks closely with private foundations, large and a significant one would be the gates foundation and others to support work towards health and resettlement. those are founded on corporate
basis as well. with academics, the solutions of these problems are very complex that john mitchell discussed. so we're working on the best practices for how to indeed, you know, deliver the best services and the most efficient cost-effective man earn and bring about change -- manner that brings about change but allows people to successfully integrate. all of those are strategies constantly being tried and refined and there's multiple clap ration with academic partners a large one is harvard, the school of public health and the international rescue committee. globally, we've had multiple interacts with emery. there's also great opportunities
at the volunteer level of ndividuals and then direct hands on support like in atlanta. data just pulled together for our annual report. the coalition, which is made up of eight agencies, we compiled our list of partners and it is civic faith and community partnerships. i know we, amongst our coalition we work with georgia tech, the university of georgia and others we have partners very well with our universities in atlanta. and then lots of faith and community partners, we do have corporate partners.
i think that is a big area for potential growth. i can say for our organization, i would love to have more corporate partners. so that is an area for growth in the future but we do have a lot of strong partnerships in the community. >> we only have time, unfortunately, for one more question. i'm going to go and take yours. but i think you'll be here for a few hours today. so if you get an opportunity and want to ask a question, i'm sure they will be happy to answer it. rachel if you go ahead. >> a quick question -- there was a touch on statelessness on dealing with a refugees don't have a country to go to or have the documentation to support that. my question is from my organization has seen with haiti. with the earthquake there was a
destruction of documents. how do you work with providing documentation that they can resettle or integrate, how is that process facilitated so there is documentation so they can get the documentation they need to be able to do what they need to do? the head of my office would be happy to answer that question because this is his pet projects. but we do have a project in haiti and the doe minutic republic. it is one of the countries in the caribbean affected by statelessness. many of them don't have documentation. we have a project inside haiti where we work with the community and do a huge outreach drive and get people to come forward and register and it provides them with documents. so that is -- i would be happy to talk about it with you more. but that is something we're working on inside haiti and the
dominican republic. >> i might add to that, that having documentation is not a requirement to be registered as a refugee. globally, it is protected that you don't need to have that because so often people who have fled war they don't. that does not mean they are necessarily stateless though. not having proof of your citizenship or your state registry is not the same as statelessness. statelessness is a form of persecution and we work with a number of people who have been victimized by that. i mentioned earlier, the case of the ethnic family. the way they were persecuted is those who were of that ethnicity and had generations born there, they had a legislation that said
if you're born in this country, you will no longer have the citizenship. so there are children in the 1980 's were being born without having a country. similarly, we've had ethnic russia-- minorities from that were left stateless. that is a form of persecution and lack of civil rights. so people are admitted to the united states with that condition of persecution. >> ok. i think that's it for this first panel. i think these ladies did an amazing job. a round of applause for them. [applause] >> this morning on the sunday's lk show senators chuck shoer -- schumer talked about aid and
what the congress hopes to accomplish when they return in early april. >> every major policy issue has been resolved on the gang of eight. we've all agreed that we're not going to come to a final agreement until we see draft legislative language and we agreed on that. we've drafted some of it already and the rest will be drafted the this -- this week. i'm confident that we'll have an agreement this week. a senator has agreed to have extensive markup and debate on the bill in april then we go to the floor, god willing, in may. i think we're on track. deal.hink we've got a 2013, i hope we'll pass immigration reform so we can prevent a third wave of illegal