Welcoming Refugees & Asylum Seekers

At least 79.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes, which accounts for 1% of the world’s population, and is the highest it’s been, even after World War Two. Among them are nearly 26 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18.

Source: UNHCR

More than half of all refugees come from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. In 2019, only half a per cent of the world’s refugees were resettled. Over the past decade, just over 1 million refugees were resettled, compared to 3.9 million refugees who returned to their country. (Source: Amnesty)

Developed countries aren’t doing nearly enough to share the cost of protecting people who have left everything behind. Appeals for humanitarian assistance for refugees are consistently – and often severely – underfunded.

Source: Amnesty

As part of the refugee/asylum working group, Amnesty International Group 30 (San Francisco chapter) took part in the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) HOME Volunteer program. The HOME program provides a short-term housing subsidy and mentorship to a government-approved refugee family settling in the Bay Area. Our team helped a refugee family from Afghanistan with a housing stipend, initial home setup, and help with adjusting to life in the United States and the Bay Area. The federal government provides the same amount of funding for refugees resettling in the U.S., regardless of the location, and unfortunately the amount is insufficient to cover deposit and housing.

Thanks to all the individual donors support on our GoFundMe and other sources, we were able to exceed our goal of $5,000, and raised $7,416 to help the family to settle in after their arrival in late 2020.

Additional Resources:

Learn more about Amnesty’s Community Sponsorship here. To build a movement of welcome for refugees in the United States, in June 2018 Amnesty USA launched the Longer Table Initiative. Today, Amnesty USA partners with all nine national Resettlement Agencies and nearly 75 local affiliates with community sponsorship and/or volunteer opportunities. In addition, seven Amnesty groups have committed to sponsoring families, and another 14 groups are considering sponsorship. Thus far all the families who have arrived have been from Afghanistan. 

Learn more about reports and urgent actions on Amnesty’s Refugees and Asylum-Seekers here.

Definitions:

Refugee: A refugee is a person who has been forced to flee their home country due to persecution because of
their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group (e.g., members of the
LGBTQ community). (Source: http://www.hias.org/FAQ/HIAS)

Asylum seeker: An asylum seeker is a person who has fled persecution in their home country and is seeking safe
haven in a different country, but has not yet received any legal recognition or status. (Source: http://www.hias.org/FAQ/HIAS)

Internally displaced person: An internally displaced person is a person who fled their home but has not
crossed an international border to find sanctuary. (Source: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c146.html)

Migrant: A migrant is a person who chooses to move from their home for any variety of reasons, but not
necessarily because of a direct threat of persecution or death. Migrant is an umbrella category that can include
refugees but can also include people moving to improve their lives by finding work or education, those seeking
family reunion and others. (Source: http://www.unhcr.org/55df0e556.html)u