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President’s Fiscal Year 2007 ‎Budget Gives Refugees A New ‎Opportunity‎

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Annan Speaks Out Against Reprinting ‎Controversial Cartoons, Again Condemns ‎Violence‎‎

President’s Fiscal Year 2007 ‎Budget Gives Refugees A New ‎Opportunity

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In Your Issue 211 ''What Is Going On In ‎Somaliland?‎‎

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By Somalilandtimes network

WASHINGTON, DC, February 8, 2006 – Increases in refugee assistance funding in President Bush’s fiscal year 2007 budget, coupled with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s new transformational diplomacy initiative, create an opportunity for the State Department to fund innovative assistance methods resulting in self-sufficiency and dignity for millions of warehoused refugees. Current forms of assistance that treat refugees as passive beneficiaries of aid are inconsistent with the President’s call for freedom and the Secretary’s demand for accountability and results in foreign assistance programming.

The President’s fiscal year 2007 budget, which requests $893 million for the State Department Migration and Refugee Assistance account and $615 million for the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, also includes an impressive $55 million to respond to unforeseen refugee crises. Yet none of the initiatives proposed in the budget would enable refugees from places such as Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Iran─all mentioned in the State of the Union address last week─to exercise the basic freedom to work and go to school in their host countries.

President Bush and Secretary Rice have called for states to conduct themselves responsibly in the international system. Over the past two years, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has challenged the practice of warehousing refugees─confining them to camps or segregated settlements or denying them basic human rights guaranteed in the 1951 Refugee Convention. “The anti-warehousing campaign has shown donors and host countries alike that it is no longer conscionable to make refugees dependent on foreign assistance dollars without allowing them to support themselves,” said Lavinia Limón, president and CEO of the Committee.

Recently, the government of Thailand, which hosts 150,000 Burmese refugees in camps, has asked the international community to implement programs allowing refugees opportunities for work and education. Malaysia says it is willing to let Rohinga refugees from Burma work. Lebanon has also announced new categories of work authorization for Palestinian refugees. These are examples of progress, but despite an amendment passed in the Senate last year encouraging the United States to fund such efforts, the State Department has made no monetary commitment to these programs.

“It is normal for bureaucracies to resist new initiatives,” said Limón, former director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. “But with increased funding, the President has given the State Department an opportunity to do something creative that is consistent with his message of freedom for the world’s persecuted people.”

Secretary Rice has said that our foreign assistance must result in the ability of people to transform their own future. If new initiatives succeed in doing so, fewer refugees will remain dependent on fluctuations in the foreign assistance budget. 

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.


For further information contact:

Sarah Petrin (202) 215-3187

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