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United States

The United States has a long tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and conflict. Staff and volunteers at the International Rescue Committee help refugees translate their skills, interests and past experiences into assets that are valuable in their new communities.

Country facts
  • Population: 234 million
  • Rank in Human Development Index: 8
IRC response
  • Started work in: 1933
  • People resettled: 370,000 since 1975

Crisis briefing

In 2015, the International Rescue Committee resettled nearly 10,000 refugees, while also working to help asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, and other immigrants. In total, the IRC provides services to approximately 36,000 people each year.

 

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What is resettlement?

The UN Agency for Refugees defines resettlement as the selection and transfer of refugees from a country to which they have fled for immediate protection, to another country that has agreed to admit them with permanent residence status. 

The majority of refugees remain in the country to which they have fled until they can return safely to their home countries. A small number will be allowed to become citizens in the country to which they have fled. An even smaller number – less than 1 percent of all refugees – will be resettled permanently in a third country, such as the United States, Canada, Germany or Sweden. The United States welcomes over half of all refugees who are accepted for resettlement globally, more than all other resettlement countries combined.

 

How does the IRC help resettle refugees?

Through its 29 offices across the United States, the IRC helps refugees integrate into their adopted communities and acquire the skills they will need to thrive over the long-term. When a refugee first arrives in the United States, the IRC focuses on immediate needs such as food, clothing, shelter, legal services, and medical attention. We work in partnership with our clients to promote self-reliance by providing cultural orientation, employment services, and language classes so that they can begin their new lives with confidence. 

The IRC is proud to have spearheaded a number of innovative initiatives that leverage the unique strengths that refugees bring to the United States. For example, because many refugees come from agrarian backgrounds the IRC has created the ‘New Roots’ programme, which enables refugees to work alongside their neighbours at community gardens and urban farms in low-income communities. The IRC also provides specialised services to survivors of torture, gender-based violence, and human trafficking. Learn more about our resettlement programmes.

 

What do refugees contribute to U.S. society?

Once they adjust to their new environment, refugees contribute to their communities in many ways, building careers, purchasing homes, and starting businesses. In the US, 85% of resettled refugees are self-sufficient within 180 days.  For more information on what refugees contribute to their states, click here. 

 

Does the IRC support resettlement in Europe?

Over 65 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence and persecution. In addition, over 21 million people have been forced to leave their countries and are now living outside their national borders as refugees. The U.N. estimates that 1.19 million of these refugees are in need of resettlement to a third country. The IRC believes in resettlement as a key mechanism to protect the most vulnerable refugees. In Europe, the IRC is calling for an ambitious, permanent and humane resettlement scheme that will establish a structured process for resettling refugees.   

Building on our history of resettlement leadership in the U.S., the IRC believes that Europe can achieve the same success.  As outlined in our report, ‘Pathways to Protection’, the IRC is calling for Europe to resettle a minimum of 108,000 refugees each year over the next five years, a total of 540,000 refugees.  Although this figure represents only a small percentage of the world’s refugee population, the IRC believes that this is an investment that Europe can well afford, and one that will produce a wide range of positive social and economic returns. Access to asylum for spontaneous arrivals at Europe’s borders and shores must be upheld. Europe must also complement resettlement with alternative pathways to entry, such as humanitarian visas, family reunion, private sponsorship and/or medical evacuation programmes. 

Read our case for structured resettlement in Europe in full

Our impact

The International Rescue Committee has helped:

36,000

refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking and other immigrants in the United States to receive services.

The IRC offers high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services and citizenship assistance in 22 cities across the U.S.

Learn more about immigration
9,961

newly arrived refugees who have been offered sanctuary by the United States to resettle in their new communities.

The United States has a long tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and war.

18,151

refugees from East Asia to resettle in the United States through the IRC Resettlement Support Centres in Thailand and Malaysia.

We help refugees prepare paperwork, facilitate interviews with U.S government officials, and, once they have been accepted for resettlement, schedule medical screening and cultural orientation classes.

Read about resettlement support

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