Who are refugees and why they end up here?

In simple terms, a refugee is someone who has fled one’s home country and can’t return due to legitimate fear of persecution. People often misunderstand who a refugee is, thinking that they are immigrants looking for economic opportunities. And yet refugees are people like anybody else whose homes are ravaged by wars, armed conflict or who after facing serious human rights abuses and persecutions are compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek for safety and protection outside his country of origin or nationality.

Often, though not always, refugees travel hundreds of miles on foot through dense jungles and under incredibly dangerous circumstances. During this journey, sometimes men are the most targeted and killed the reason for so many orphans and widows. Refugees suffer unspeakable atrocities. Oftentimes, children are kidnapped while women are raped, families get separated while fleeing this inhumane violence and many die along the way. Those who survive end up in camps tired, completely destitute, and starving and frequently sick. This influx of refugees instigates fear into the countries they land as they don’t know what to do with them. There is a growing concern that rebels, armed forces or terrorists may be hiding within the flow of the refugees and penetrate host countries. However, Milton & others believe that this populist suspicion and fear of refugees' threat to national security and terror-related activities is relatively scarce.

What causes these protracted situations?

Protracted refugee situations stem from political impasses that prevent conflicts from being resolved and prevent refugees from returning home voluntarily in safety and dignity and from integrating into their countries of asylum. Such situations are the result of political action or inaction that either fails to address the root causes of persecution and violence that led to flight, or fails to accept refugees as full members of their host communities. Most refugees living in protracted situations come from countries where conflict and persecution have persisted for years. Moreover, once refugees have been displaced for six months they have a high-probability of being displaced for at least three years.

What happens to the refugees who live in protracted situations?

Refugees in protracted refugee situations often face protection and human rights challenges, such as restricted movement or confinement in camps, sexual and physical violence, and lack of access to legal employment, police protection, and systems of justice. Due to these restrictions, refugees may be unable to earn livelihoods and achieve self-reliance. Consequently, this may make them dependent on international assistance to fulfill basic needs such as food, potable water, shelter, and health care. Tensions between refugees and their host communities over scarce resources can become a source of insecurity.

What is the solution to this problem?

Resolving protracted situations requires at least one of the three durable solutions for refugees: voluntary return to their home countries in safety and dignity; local integration in their country of asylum; or third-country resettlement. In the absence of durable solutions, opportunities for increasing dignity and opportunities for self-reliance, including through education and legal work, are critical.

What the US does to help refugees in protracted situations?

Ameliorating protracted refugee situations is a U.S. foreign policy goal and a humanitarian priority. The U.S. Government supports international programs that address protracted refugee situations in regions throughout the world. The Department of State is working to strengthen U.S. diplomatic, assistance, and resettlement efforts. In most situations, making a positive difference means finding durable solutions. Where durable solutions remain elusive, it means enhancing the protection and living conditions of refugees in the countries where they reside.

On September 20, 2016, the United States and co-host nations Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico, and Sweden, hosted the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, culminating a sustained effort to rally nations to step up their efforts in response to the largest mass displacement crisis since the Second World War. Fifty-two countries and international organizations participated in the Summit. These nations announced commitments that cumulatively: (1) Increased total 2016 financial contributions to UN appeals and international humanitarian organizations by approximately $4.5 billion over 2015 levels; (2) Roughly doubled the number of refugees they will resettle or afford other legal channels of admission in 2016; and (3) Created improved access to education for one million refugee children globally; and improved access to lawful work for one million refugees globally.

Anyone who has lived in a refugee camp or in a country where refugees are or where there was a need for humanitarian aid, knows America because of its food aid. America is also is well known for many programs that saved lives for many like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that was announced by President George W. Bush. The virus of Aids was controlled in Africa as well as Malaria epidemic that was killing many people before this assistance was instituted. Immigrants and refugees know America because of when refugees and immigrants arrive in the US, Americans extend their helping hands to meet their basic needs. However because refugees and immigrants have innumerable needs, it is not uncommon that people don't know how to help them efficiently.


Refugees resettled in the US

Upon arrival here, refugees are highly motivated to start working because they have either left everything behind due to fleeing wars and other persecutions or are from poverty stricken countries and are now seeking new opportunities to earn an income, rebuild their lives, become self-reliant again and give something back to the community. In doing so, refugees hope to regain dignity because they do not want to be treated as victims or charity cases. CNN reports that as more Americans fail the drugs tests, employers are now turning into refugees. Percentage of American workers testing positive for illegal drugs is at highest level in a decade. Currently, the refugees who have reached America in recent years are finding a more welcoming hiring climate, at least for menial manufacturing jobs . Resettlement agencies through their employment programs, help refugees find employment and work towards self-sufficiency.

Eager to find employment, refugees accept the first survival jobs they get in order to meet their basic needs. In doing so, they hope to neutralize the claim that they are a burden to the community. Instead, they become colleagues and friends. They do no longer seem like a threat instead it speeds up refugee’s full participation in the socioeconomic life of the receiving community. Unfortunately, the resettlement agency’s period of initial placement and cultural orientation coaching is too short to help refugees learn everything they need to know and understand about the workplace culture in order to succeed.

While technical skills may get refugees foot in the door, their people skills are what open most of the doors to come. Their work ethic, attitude, communication skills, emotional intelligence and a whole host of other personal attributes are the soft skills that are crucial for career success. It’s no secret that American employers look at a potential candidate’s soft skills in addition to technical skills. In fact, soft skills are often the deciding factor on who gets hired.

Evidence also suggests that refugees who do manage to enter the labor market remain under-employed and are more likely to enter employment beneath their level of skills/ qualifications in the low or unskilled sector. The results are devastating because in lean times, unskilled employees are likely to be the first to be laid off or get stuck in that unstable low wage jobs that offer little career mobility or growth. This situation perpetuates poverty and inequality and refugees are likely to assimilate in the underclass.