On June 20th, along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), LSS Center for New Americans honors World Refugee Day, a day to become informed of the plight of millions of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons.
Here are some facts about refugees
- Refugees are people who have fled due to war and persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, or membership in a social or political group. There were 7 million refugees from around the world who have fled by the end of 2013. 50% were under the age of 18.1[i]
- During the year, conflict and persecution forced an average of 32,200 persons per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere, either within the borders of their countries or in other countries.
- The United States is one of many countries around the world that have committed to resettling refugees as a part of a global humanitarian mission. It is an important, enduring and ongoing expression of the United States’ commitment to international humanitarian principles.
- The U.S. Government, as determined by the President of the United States, allowed approximately 70,000 refugees to enter our country last year. About 35 to 40 percent of refugees resettled in the U.S. are children.
- Refugees are screened and go through in-depth background checks prior to receiving refugee status and before resettlement. Information is gathered and interviews are conducted by the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the INS), FBI and the US Embassy.
- Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota helped resettle 424 individuals within Sioux Falls and 112 in Huron in 2014. This is less than 1% of the total population of refugees resettled in the U.S.
- LSS operates refugee resettlement offices in Sioux Falls and Huron. The primary goals for all services are self-sufficiency and cultural adjustment. LSS provides six core services:
- Community Orientation & Education
- Case Management
- Employment Services
- English Language Training
- Immigration Services
- Interpreter Services.
What can you do to get involved?
- Get involved in the work of welcoming with LSS Center for New Americans through mentoring a recently arrived refugee family or assisting in our ESL classrooms. Click here to get started.
- Host your own World Refugee Day event by screening a topical film at your home and inviting your friends and family. Here are some film suggestions from the UNHCR.
- Support financially the welcoming work of LSS Center for New Americans and other resettlement agencies.
- Interact and learn from experiencing the UNHCR’s online simulation Against All Odds http://www.playagainstallodds.ca/ (Note: this online simulation may not be suitable for small children.)
- Get creative! People all over the world are hosting events in honor of this day and a quick online search can provide you will many wonderful ideas!
[i]Facts from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. http://www.unhcr.org.uk/about-us/key-facts-and-figures.html