A Global Conflict
The current refugee crisis is the worst in modern history, worse even than that provoked by the Second World War, with a total of 65 million people uprooted. This is due to an accumulation of national crises throughout the world: in the past six years, at least 15 conflicts have begun or reignite, while old crises in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Colombia continue. These conflicts cause global and local displacement of populations of people, the categorizations of which are important to distinguish. Refugees are persons displaced outside of their home country, while internally displaced persons (IDPs) are those displaced within their home country. The current 21 million refugees hail from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan; 41 million IDPs (internally displaced people) currently live within Colombia, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, and Yemen. Both groups traditionally face persecution based on one of five grounds: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
Unpacking the Numbers
There are three traditional “durable solutions” to the refugee crisis: voluntary repatriation, local integration, and resettlement in other countries. Voluntary repatriation involves return of displaced persons to their homelands, in safety and dignity. Recently, we have seen the lowest voluntary refugee returns in decades, with a total of only 200,000 last year. Local integration into host countries happens infrequently due to host countries’ concerns about resources. Resettlement in other countries, like the United States, is a critical tool of protection, offering safety and permanence. Unfortunately, it is greatly limited in availability, with less than 1% of refugees resettled in any year.
Resettlement vs. Asylum
The difference between resettlement and asylum is important to note. Resettlement is managed by UNHCR, as people are referred and interviewed before entering a host country, such as the United States. This process can take years or decades. Asylum-seekers are spontaneous arrivals to a host country, and must apply for citizenship or resettlement without the guidance of UNHCR.
UNA-USA’s Adopt-a-Future Campaign
The Adopt-a-Future Campaign aims to integrate American communities in global solutions to the refugee crisis. It will enable communities to “adopt” and raise funds to support a specific school serving refugees in one of nine countries: Ethiopia, Rwanda, Yemen, South Sudan, Sudan, Kenya, Malaysia, Chad, and Pakistan. Participating communities will use fundraising tools and host Back-to-School events to raise awareness at home and to provide school supplies to resettled refugees in their own communities. For $250, an individual or community partner could provide 10 students with required school uniforms and supplies; for $30,000, a UNA-USA chapter of community partner can actually build a classroom at a school serving refugees. Such classrooms would serve the needs of at least 40 children for 10 years. CSUF Generation United Nations has pledged to raise $30,000 over the next two years, which will go towards building a refugee classroom in Yemen.