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Assistant Secretary Sauerbrey Decries Genocide in Darfur

17 November 2006

Official says aiding refugees among top priorities for United States

Washington -- The ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan -- a “gross violation” of human rights -- is among the top international issues of concern to the United States, says U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, who directs the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

During a November 17 USINFO Webchat, Sauerbrey noted that her bureau provides significant life-saving assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons.

But she emphasized the situation in Sudan requires a political solution that will end the violence.

“We continue to press Sudan to accept a vigorous peace-keeping mission involving UN forces and are hopeful that the Sudanese government's recent announcement that it will accept some sort of mission will lead to an end to hostilities,” she said.

Sauerbrey said there has been no major resettlement program of refugees from Darfur, in part because “the insecurity does not permit the necessary infrastructure. However, we are looking at this possibility for the future.”

Elsewhere in Africa, the United States will be providing emergency help in the Dadaab camp in Kenya, which recently was flooded, destroying thousands of shelters. The focus, Sauerbrey said, will be on finding “durable solutions, assisting refugees who are able to safely return to their homes, and where that is not possible, offering resettlement opportunities in the United States.”

Since 1980, according to State Department figures, more than 185,000 African refugees have been admitted to the United States for permanent resettlement. Most are Somali (more than 58,000) or Ethiopian (more than 39,000), but the number also includes Sudanese, Liberians, Congolese, Rwandans, Sierra Leoneans, and Angolans, among others.

In recent years, the program has grown more diverse both in terms of nationalities admitted to the United States and processing locations. In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005, refugees from 24 African countries were admitted to the United States.

The U.S. government gives $1 billion in federal funds every year to alleviate suffering and provide life-sustaining relief for millions of refugees and innocent victims of conflict around the globe. In addition, the American people contribute significantly more through the private sector, foundations and corporations.  (See eJournal.)

Sauerbrey said the United States focuses on "finding durable solutions, assisting refugees who are able to safely return to their homes, and where that is not possible, offering resettlement opportunities in the U.S."

When refugees arrive in the United States, they are assisted by an organized program in one of 365 centers around the country run by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs locate housing and provide necessary household items, assist refugee families in finding work and in enrolling their children in school, provide language training and connect them to a wide range of community organizations.

“The program is very successful in quickly integrating refugees into American society and preparing them, if they wish, for U.S. citizenship,” Sauerbrey said.

Within the U.S. State Department, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) administers and monitors U.S. contributions to international and nongovernmental organizations to assist and protect refugees abroad. In overseeing admissions of refugees to the United States for permanent resettlement, the bureau works closely with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Health and Human Services, and various state and private voluntary agencies.

PRM coordinates U.S. international population policy and promotes its goals through bilateral and multilateral cooperation. It works closely with the U.S. Agency for International Development, which administers U.S. international population programs. The bureau also coordinates U.S. international migration policy within the U.S. government and through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy.

For more information on U.S. policy, see Darfur Humanitarian Emergency and Humanitarian Assistance and Refugees.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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