Who are refugees?

A refugee is someone who must flee their homeland in order to be safe. They cannot return home, or they are rightly afraid to return home due to violence or persecution. The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, adopted in 1951, defines a refugee as…

[A]ny person who: owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.

Many refugees have experienced trauma or torture in fleeing their homeland. They often leave their families and homes behind with little or no belongings. About 80% of refugees are women and children. 

Refugees often wait more than 10 years before they are resettled in the US or other countries. 

Where do refugees come from?

According to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, 55% percent of refugees worldwide come from South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria. Although our clients comprise a large range of native origin, the top countries that LSS-SW receives refugees from are: Iraq, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Burma, Iran, and Eritrea. 

How many refugees are there?

We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.

An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.

Source: United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees

What is the screening process for refugees entering the United States?

Refugees are screened more carefully than any other traveler to the United States. Many refugees that we work with have been waiting years or even decades to enter our country. Before admission to the United States, each refugee undergoes an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process administered by the Department of Homeland Security. You can see an overview here and read more from the U.S. Department of State

Where can I find more information about refugees?