Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne Richard, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, and Syria Deeply discuss aid to Syria during a Google+ Hangout on March 19, 2013.

Djibouti: Migration Crossroads

Captured smuggler boats docked along the Djibouti coast, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Catherine Weisner serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.

We hadn’t driven more than three dusty minutes before we encountered the first group of men clustered under a scraggly tree for shade, resting from their long journey on foot from Ethiopia. Here they waited for smugglers to take them to the boats they would use to attempt crossing the Red Sea to Yemen. I expected them to be more skittish, but the staff from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) explained that they are known to migrants as a helpful, friendly, and professional organization.

The men freely told us their stories — extremely limited prospects at home led each to pay smugglers the equivalent of US$ 380 — more than a year’s wages in rural Ethiopia. Sometimes whole communities pooled resources to send a few people out; many had borrowed… more »

Resolving the Plight of Persecuted, Uprooted People Around the World

Afghan refugee children stand on their belonging loaded on a truck as they depart for Afghanistan at a UNHCR repatriation terminal near Quetta, Pakistan, Nov. 17, 2012. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Anne C. Richard serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.

2012 was a challenging year for humanitarians trying to help displaced people around the world. The following summarizes some of the challenges addressed by the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) last year.

Inside Syria, 40,000 people have been killed and over two million are displaced. Over half a million people have fled to neighboring countries. The U.S. government (the State Department and USAID) is providing $210 million in humanitarian aid to the region, and this aid is reaching millions.

Last year, refugees fled violence and drought in Northern Mali and… more »

International Migrants Day: Finding Solutions for Migrant Children

Sri Lankan migrant children have lunch on their boat at a port in Cilegon, Banten province, Indonesia, October 16, 2009. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Catherine Wiesner serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration.

On the occasion of International Migrants Day, I wanted to share my experience from the sixth Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Port Louis, Mauritius. I led the U.S. delegation of representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Labor, and the United States Agency for International Development, where we met with other nations under the theme of “Enhancing the Human Development of Migrants and their Contribution…more »

Syrian Refugees: Trying to Make It in Lebanon and Jordan

Newly-arrived Syrian refugees being taken by Jordanian military bus to Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq city, after they crossed the border from Tal Shehab city in Syria, through the Al Yarmouk River valley, into Thnebeh town, in Ramtha, Jordan, Sept. 5, 2012. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Anne C. Richard serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.

The recent visits of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and actress/director and Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Angelina Jolie to the Za’atri camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan drew attention to the plight of the refugees, and will hopefully increase support by individual and government donors to aid programs. But focusing on refugee camps shows only one aspect of life in exile. Of the half million Syrian refugees, some two-thirds live in cities and villages and not in refugee camps.

I traveled in late November to Jordan and Lebanon and met five families who had fled the violence in Syria and were trying to survive as refugees outside of camps.

In Amman, we were welcomed by two Syrian brothers who had married two sisters. One couple had five children. The other couple was expecting their first child. I asked how… more »

Planes, Barges, and Trucks in South Sudan

A man carries a large package of food air dropped by the World Food Program to the Yida Camp in South Sudan, October 28, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Anne C. Richard serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Traveling to visit refugees, one expects to see and hear certain things. I recently visited a refugee camp in South Sudan, however, and it was the unexpected things I found there that made the deepest impression: the real challenges and steep cost of getting aid to the refugees.

In any refugee camp in Africa one will find people of all generations crowded together in shelters hastily erected from local building materials such as tree branches. Boreholes and pumps provide not only water, one of the basics to sustain life, but also serve as a gathering place for people and children who like to play. In the maternity areas of make-shift clinics, expectant mothers get counseling on staying healthy and babies are born.

Having read up on the Yida refugee site before visiting, I also knew that there had been reports of severe malnutrition among newcomers to the… more »

Helping Refugee Children in Kenya

FilmAid runs SGBV awareness class in action, Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Anne C. Richard serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration

It is hard to be a refugee, but I think it must be even more difficult to be a refugee child, trying to learn and grow and enjoy childhood despite living in some of the most challenging circumstances on earth. On a trip to Kenya, I visited with refugee children in two very different locations: in the Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya and in a safe house in Nairobi for girls who are victims of violence.

In the large (103,000 inhabitants and growing) Kakuma Camp that shelters refugees from Somalia, South Sudan and other nearby countries, aid workers grapple with a big problem: there is little respect for the rights of children. Many children are forced to work, others are neglected or expected to raise little siblings and some suffer from other forms of exploitation. Too many have been orphaned or separated from their parents. Nearly all the children live precarious… more »

Supporting Girls and Young Women in Post-Conflict and Humanitarian Settings

Girl struggles against sand storm in Darfur refugee camp, Sudan, Apr. 20, 2007. [AP File]

About the Author: Margaret Pollack serves as Senior Advisor on Population Issues in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Today, on the first International Day of the Girl Child, it’s important to remember some of the most vulnerable girls in the world — those living in post-conflict or other humanitarian settings. The special vulnerabilities of young women and girls — to early marriage, unplanned pregnancies, gender-based violence and abuse — can all be exacerbated when the normal protections of organized societies break down during times of conflict or crisis. Humanitarians have a special responsibility to meet the needs of these girls, and the United States is working with our international and non-governmental organization partners to ensure those most in need of protection are not forgotten.

Our humanitarian assistance — including the provision of health, shelter, nutrition, and water and sanitation programs — supports the community, the family, and through this the whole child.… more »

Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard Leads U.S. Delegation to the Executive Committee Meeting of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 1, 2012

Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard will travel to Geneva October 1 - 4 to lead the U.S. delegation at the 63rd session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the principal international organization concerned with the protection of refugees and stateless persons worldwide. Priority issues for the U.S. delegation will be the continued enhancement of protection activities, continuing assessments of UNHCR operational and institutional reform efforts, resolving protracted displacement situations, and strengthening international humanitarian coordination. Assistant Secretary Richard will also hold high-level bilateral meetings with other governments attending the meeting as well as the senior leadership of other Geneva-based international humanitarian organizations to discuss various humanitarian relief operations.

The United States is UNHCR’s largest donor, contributing to-date more than $775 million in Fiscal Year 2012. UNHCR’s Executive Committee meets in Geneva annually to review and approve the agency’s programs and budget, to advise on international protection and discuss a wide range of other issues with UNHCR and its intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. The U.S. provides humanitarian assistance around the world through international organizations, such as UNHCR, and non-governmental organizations, as they respond to humanitarian crises, wherever they occur, offering protection to refugees, and pursuing solutions for populations of concern.

For more information, contact Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration’s Public Affairs Advisor Deborah L. Sisbarro at (202) 453-9348 or; or visit PRM’s website:

An Update on U.S. Humanitarian Assistance for Those Affected by the Violence in Syria

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration David Robinson participates in a Facebook Chat on U.S. humanitarian assistance for those affected by violence in Syria, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., August 21, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: David Robinson serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Yesterday, I participated in two events, using new tools — specifically social media — to explain the ways that the United States is providing humanitarian assistance to those affected by the violence in Syria. I started off the morning with Mark Bartolini, the Director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance at USAID in a "Live At State" forum. This format is a virtual press conference; journalists log-in, submit questions in real time, and watch the discussion online from wherever they are around the world. Over 15 international media outlets participated, and we were able to reinforce the message that… more »