On World Refugee Day, the United States Government reaffirms our strong partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of Rwanda in support of refugees who have found safety and shelter in Rwanda. There are more than 20 million refugees across the globe today. Over the past year, Rwanda has welcomed more than 78,000 new refugees fleeing political conflict in Burundi, adding to the approximately 75,000 refugees already residing in the country, many of whom have sheltered in Rwanda for over twenty years.
The United States has long contributed to the support of refugees in Rwanda. This year alone, the U.S. has already provided $24.1 million for refugee assistance in Rwanda. These resources enable UNHCR, the World Food Program (WFP), and other humanitarian agencies, in coordination with the Government of Rwanda, to deliver lifesaving assistance, such as food, water, and shelter, to refugees from both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.
The theme for this year’s World Refugee Day events, “rethinking durable solutions for refugees,” reflects a global challenge and collective responsibility to move beyond short-term assistance to finding lasting solutions for refugees. As partners in this shared responsibility, President Obama has stated that the United States will expand our refugee admissions program this fiscal year for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. More than 25,000 refugees will be resettled from Africa this year.
Since 2005, the United States Government has resettled more than 7,000 refugees from Rwanda into the U.S. We are working closely with UNHCR and the Government of Rwanda to continue resettlement, and we anticipate that several thousand refugees of Congolese origin will be resettled to the United States in the coming year. We are also working with UNHCR and the Government of Rwanda to support those refugees who remain in Rwanda through health, education, and vocational training services in order to improve their livelihoods and prospects for the future.
In September, President Obama will host the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees on the margins of the UN General Assembly. The goal of the President’s summit is to expand the humanitarian safety net and create more long-term, durable opportunities for refugees. We are committed to doing more, and we will be working tirelessly during the months ahead to marshal the world’s humanitarian will to find brighter futures for refugees everywhere.