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1 Understanding Human Rights and the Refugee Story © The Advocates for Human Rights 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Understanding Human Rights and the Refugee Story © The Advocates for Human Rights 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Understanding Human Rights and the Refugee Story © The Advocates for Human Rights 2008

2 2 Overview A.The Advocates for Human Rights B.Refugees and Asylees C.The Refugee Journey D.How and why we should protect refugees and asylees

3 3 The Advocates for Human Rights Who we are and what we do

4 4 The Advocates for Human Rights

5 5 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights o fall members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace…” -The UDHR was created in First document to recognize universal human rights inherent to every human being -30 articles

6 6 Refugees: Who, What, Where, & Why

7 7 Who is a Refugee? ARNI / UN Archives / CH  2265 Accessed at unhcr.org 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees “a person who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.”

8 8 What’s the difference? Refugee vs. Asylee Refugee Must apply for admission to the U.S. Refugee Program while overseas in another country than their own All processing, applications, waivers, registration, etc. must be completed before the person arrives in the United States Both “Refugee” and “Asylee” refer to a status grounded in a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Asylee Applicant has already gained entry to the United States (i.e. work, tourist, student visa) and is afraid to return to their home country due to fear of persecution

9 9 Not to be confused with… Internally Displaced Persons (IDP)- Also forced to flea their homes, but remain within the borders of their home country; 24.5 million in at least 52 countries (including in America) Stateless Persons- Person with no citizenship or nationality Maybe because state has ceased to exist with no successor state; or person born into disputed territory Temporary Protected Status (TPS)- Person is in the United States (i.e. tourist, student, work visa) and is afraid to return home because of “temporary” problem (i.e. natural disaster, armed conflict or other ‘temporary’ conditions’)

10 10 Source: World Refugee Survey 2008 Where do Refugees come from? Top 10 Nationalities of Refugees in the U.S. China: 16,800 Haiti: 12,300 Cuba: 11,700 Somalia: 11,600 Colombia: 8,200 Russia: 8,100 Liberia: 6,900 Iran: 3,900 Guatemala: 3,400 Vietnam: 3,400 Ethiopia: 3,200 Indonesia: 3,100 Ukraine: 3,100 Venezuela: 3,100 India: 2,800 Nicaragua: 2,400 Myanmar: 2,200 Sudan: 2,200 Other: 42,800

11 11 Where do Refugees come from? A Look at Minnesota Source: Refugee Health Program Minnesota Department of Health 2007

12 12 Source: UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) “2007 Global Trends” Published June 2008 Where do Refugees go? Major Refugee-Hosting Countries: End of 2007

13 13 Where do Refugees go? Refugee Arrivals by State of Residence (2007) Source: US Department of State (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM)

14 14 Where do Refugees go? A Look at Minnesota Source: Refugee Health Program Minnesota Department of Health

15 15 What are some of the factors that “push” people out of their countries of origin, and “pull” them to a country of destination? Why the United States?

16 MN Department of Health (2008) 16 Why Minnesota? MN only takes refugees who have an anchor relative already in MN MN has many Voluntary Resettlement Agencies or VOLAGs Catholic Charities International Institute of Minnesota Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota Refugee Services of the MN Council of Churches World Relief Minnesota Jewish Family & Children's Service

17 17 Who gets to come to the U.S.? Understanding Refugee Visas

18 18

19 19 “Refugee Ceiling” Each fiscal year, President sends proposal “Report to Congress” of maximum number of refugees allowed Ceiling for refugee visas in Fiscal Year 2008: 80,000 Broken up into “Regional Programs” Africa, East Asia, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Near East and South Asia further broken up by “Priority” 1. Individual Referrals 2. Group Referrals 3. Family Reunification

20 20 For example… Source: Proposed Refugee Admissions for 2008; Report to Congress

21 21 The Refugee Journey

22 22 Refugees may have to leave their home lands without warning. They may have to walk extremely long distances to escape danger. Imagine that you have to flee Minnesota on foot. You have two hours to pack. Take 2 minutes to make a list of 3 things that you would bring and be prepared to explain your reasons. But First…

23 23 Refugee Camp Register with the Untied Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to apply for “refugee status” The average stay in a Refugee Camp is 5-10 years. Many camps are heavily guarded and surrounded by barbed wire. Refugees are often cruelly treated by guards. Refugees await solutions to problems in their homeland.

24 24 Refugee Camp: How would you feel?

25 25 What happens next? Rolling Stone Refugee Camp Voluntary Repatriation Local Integration Resettlement

26 26 Voluntary Repatriation Refugee is repatriated to their home country after conflict/fear of persecution is resolved. Conditions have changed sufficiently; allows the return of the majority in safety and dignity. -the return must be lasting and sustainable -the return must take place without forces pushing refugees to leave or barriers preventing return -the return can take place under conditions of : legal safety – absence of discrimination, freedom from persecution physical safety - freedom from attack, safe routes of return material safety – a means of livelihood and access to basic service Best case scenario, but is very rare in occurrence

27 27 Local Integration Some refugees are allowed to leave refugee camp to resettle in the country of asylum Usually happens when countries are neighbors, share similar cultures or language Can cause culture shock or tensions between refugees and citizens of their new country

28 28 Resettlement -UNHCR refers only about 1% of refugees for resettlement in third country -Family ties, trade skills, professional abilities, language, and various factors are considered by UNHCR when matching a refugee to a resettlement country -Countries with resettlement programs: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, and the U.S.

29 29 Seeking Admission to the U.S. Resettlement Program Meet U.S. eligibility requirements to apply Get referred by UNHCR or the U.S. Embassy Fill out INS I-590 Form Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) compiles file, establishes priority, forwards to U.S. Embassy Interview with INS Officer Background and medical checks Interview with Department of Homeland Security Passing applications go to State Department In some cases, final interviews with CIA and/or FBI

30 30 Pre-Travel Requirements 1.Assurance Process – U.S. resettlement agency guarantees they are prepared to receive each refugee 2.Medical Clearance – some conditions may make refugee ineligible 3.Security Clearance – depends on country of origin 4.Cultural Orientation – emphasize importance of self reliance; classes a few hours-several days

31 31 Travel The International Organization for Migration (IOM) arranges air travel Before leaving, refugee signs a promissory note promising to repay IOM for travel costs starting 6 months after their arrival

32 32 Arrival in the U.S.

33 33 First steps in U.S. Resettlement Apply for Social Security Number School Registration Medical Evaluation English Language Training

34 Fact Sheet: Differential 34 Federal Assistance for Refugees and Asylees A.Exempt from time requirements on TANF, SSI, and Medicaid B.Eligible for food stamps (as with everyone else) C.In the first 90 days, private VOLAGS contract with the Department of State to provide food, housing, employment, medical care, and counseling to help with self-sufficiency D.Certain refugees also qualify for cash and medical assistance

35 35 Becoming a Full Member of the Community Finding Employment – U.S. government expects all working age adults to find a job within 6 months of arrival Gaining Permanent Residency – can apply for Permanent Resident Alien (PRA) status (green card) after one year Becoming a Citizen – can apply for citizenship after living in the U.S. for 5 years Building a New Life – spend many years overcoming past trauma, locating family members, adjusting to American culture, building careers, raising family, and becoming a part of their new communities

36 36 Local Integration: How would you feel? Loss Anxiety Concern Faced with the reality that you may never go home Loss of friends and family Loss of culture Language Barriers Concerns over cultural adaptation Daily survival issues

37 37 Human Rights and Refugees Article 13: Right to free movement in and out of the Country Article 14: Right to seek and to enjoy asylum from persecution

38 38 Human Rights Human rights violations are a main reason behind the mass exodus of people from a country Refugees have rights which should be respected prior to, during, and after the process of seeking asylum

39 39 Human Rights Human rights apply to everyone International ethical standards uphold the minimum requirements Human rights can’t be taken away, aren’t based on status or official recognition

40 40 Refugees require extra protection Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently described refugees as “the world’s most vulnerable people,” emphasizing that the “United States is deeply committed to protecting and assisting refugees” as a vital component of the goal of securing our homeland.

41 41 Non-Refoulment Reinforces the urgency of protecting Refugees Protects refugees from being deported back to a place where they are in danger of being persecuted or tortured

42 42 Take Action! What can you do? Write articles for your school or community newspaper Advocate Volunteer- Opportunities right here at SeAM Increase awareness of refugee and immigrant issues Participate in World Refugee Day Saturday, June 20- events here in Twin Cities!

43 43 Ways to Learn More About Refugees and Immigrants Energy of a Nation Web-site A.Fact sheets B.Legislative updates C.Breaking news D.Reports

44 44 Other Resources - U.N. Refugee Agency: - U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants: - Center for Victims of Torture: - Minnesota Department of State Refugee Health: - Amnesty International:

45 45 Questions? Comments? Thank you!

46 46 Understanding Human Rights and the Refugee Story Southeast Asian Ministry February 7, 2009 Rebecca Riedell © The Advocates for Human Rights 2008


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