By Jessica Padron and Jameson DeBose
World Humanitarian Day, Aug. 19, recognizes the commitment of humanitarian workers around the world. Nearly 80 million people are forcibly displaced globally, and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated their vulnerability.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Refugee Act, which established the precursor office to the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). PRM advances U.S. foreign policy by leading U.S. humanitarian diplomacy to seek durable solutions to displacement. Partnering with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the U.N. Children’s Fund, and many NGOs, PRM provides lifesaving protection and assistance to forcibly displaced and conflict-affected people.
PRM’s team supports that mission, managing more than $3 billion annually in humanitarian assistance to more than 80 international and NGO partners. While most of this work focuses on assisting refugees and other displaced people as close to their homes as possible, permanent resettlement in a third country is sometimes the only option for the most vulnerable. Since 1980, America has welcomed more than 3 million refugees to communities throughout the country.
While the COVID-19 pandemic caused a temporary suspension of regular refugee resettlement to the United States, PRM is nevertheless finding ways to support vulnerable communities. Recently, Nairobi-based refugee coordinator Jessica Carl led a joint effort to reunite a 4-year-old refugee child living in Kenya with his father, who had been resettled in the United States. Viviane Chao of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based at Embassy Nairobi accompanied the child on a repatriation flight bringing Americans home. A U.S.-based resettlement program partner arranged for the boy’s father to meet him upon arrival in his new home country.
In these unusual times, PRM proudly continues the tradition of American generosity toward those with the greatest needs. Follow PRM’s work on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and view their annual summary of major activities reports here.
Jessica Padron is a public diplomacy officer supporting the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration while on ordered departure from the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou. Jameson DeBose is the spokesperson for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.