Thursday, June 29, 2006

World Refugee Survey

USCRI Releases World Refugee Survey 2006: Risks and Rights

WASHINGTON DC, June 14, 2006The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) announces the release of the World Refugee Survey 2006—Risks and Rights, revealing the number of refugees in the world has increased to 12 million largely due to instability in Iraq.  The Survey counts 650,000 more Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria since 2005.  Although nearly 740,000 Afghans returned home, new data shows that more than 2 million Afghan refugees remained in Iran and Pakistan.  The Middle East and Africa continued to host the largest number of refugees, and two-thirds of the world’s refugees remained warehoused: deprived of basic human rights established in the 1951 Refugee Convention for five years or more.

The deteriorating situation in Iraq has led to the refugee outflow some predicted at the onset of the war, which has only now materialized.  Over 40% of the nation’s professionals have fled.  Syria now hosts 351,000 Iraqi refugees and has the largest population of Iraqi Shi’a Muslims outside Iraq. Jordan hosts 450,000 Iraqi refugees, many of whom are Christian minorities.  Neither Jordan nor Syria recognize the United Nation’s call for temporary protection and both refuse entry to many new arrivals. USCRI anticipates a more significant outflow in the near future, as the Iraqi government has issued over 2 million passports in the last ten months.

The Survey rates host country treatment of refugees, and this year’s grades reveal that physical protection for refugees is on the decline, with eleven countries scoring worse than last year for forced return and other violations.  Egypt dropped two letter grades for its deadly crackdown on Sudanese refugee protests, and the Russian Federation received all F’s for its treatment of Uzbek and other asylum seekers.  The United States again earned an F for its refoulement of thousands of Haitian asylum seekers and the European Union was not far behind with a D for its egregious detention practices.  Yet some of the poorest countries of the world scored quite well.  Benin earned straight A’s for hosting 32,000 refugees, mostly from Togo, without restricting their rights.

The Survey also highlights the success of the anti-warehousing campaign in influencing host country policies.  Lebanon lifted the ban on Palestinian employment in many manual and clerical jobs, Malaysia granted work permits to thousands of Indonesian refugees, and Thailand opened up educational and vocational training opportunities for Myanmarese refugees.

This year’s feature articles include “We Ain’t Refuges,” a message from USCRI President & CEO Lavinia Limón on refugees and the victims of Hurricane Katrina; a consolidated NGO Statement to the UN on “Women at Risk;” and a moving dedication by Senator Edward Kennedy to the life of Edward Marks, founder of the U.S. Committee for Refugees who passed away in October 2005. 

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is a non-profit, nongovernmental organization that has served refugees and immigrants and defended the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons worldwide since 1911.  USCRI's resettlement program and network of community-based partner agencies help thousands of refugees build new lives in the United States each year.  USCRI publishes the World Refugee Survey and Refugee Reports.

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Comments

This is a great report. I've not had time to read all of it, but so far I've found it to be exceptionally informative. The USCRI just recently posted another report on refugees for online view at www.issuelab.com. During July, this searchable archive, aptly named "IssueLab," will be featuring nonprofit orgs and the research they have produced on the issue of immigration. The USCRI, Economic Policy Institute, and Immigration Equality are just a few nonprofits that have already posted their research online for your perusal. IssueLab serves as a centralized site on which nonprofits can list their research works at no cost, and anyone interested can search and access them. Check out their call for current and historical research on immigration at www.issuelab.com.

It’s amazing that we’re seeing so much exposure on the question of immigrant rights right now, when this is really a matter close to the heart of American democracy itself—this country was founded by immigrants. What I feel like many people don’t realize is that politicians aren’t the only ones speaking out loud and clear on this issue. I think that the research carried out by nonprofits in the United States can offer a lot to discussion. Nonprofits often deal with immigrants on a personal basis and see both the struggles and opportunities in these people’s lives. Not only do they observe the effects of current policy in the area of immigration, but they drive the formation of new policy at both the macro and micro levels.

In discussing any controversial issue like this one, it’s essential to look at the facts behind the stereotypes and hype. For example, of the total number of immigrants in the United States today, how many are legal and how many are illegal? What kind of numbers are we talking about when estimating the costs to the economy by illegal (and legal) immigration? Is it really true that, statistically speaking, immigrants are “stealing” Americans’ jobs? What kind of hard and soft goods have immigrants contributed to American society in the past and present? Nonprofits work hard to provide the public with basic facts in answer to these questions, and also spend tons of time researching the pros and cons of current policy.

Posted by: Juli | Jul 3, 2006 5:48:34 PM

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