Who is a refugee?
According to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is:
“A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.” The concept of a refugee was expanded by the Convention’s 1967 Protocol and by regional conventions in Africa and Latin America to include persons who had fled war or other violence in their home country.
Refugees come from many countries around the world on almost every continent. From Africa to South America, to Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia. Here at ACC in Las Vegas, our recent refugees have come from Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Iraq and Iran. Previously, we have resettled people from Congo, Sudan, Cambodia, and Somalia. In 2006, the official worldwide count of refugees was 8,400,000 people so there is still much work to do!
Why do they come to the United States?
A number of countries run specific resettlement programs in co-operation with the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees. In the United States, we have the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which is a part of the U.S. Department of State.
“Every year, the United States provides resettlement opportunities to thousands of the world’s most vulnerable refugees, in a program endorsed by the President (and every President since 1980) through an annual determination. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), which resettled nearly 75,000 refugees in the United States in 2009, reflects our own tradition as a nation of immigrants and refugees. It is an important, enduring and ongoing expression of our commitment to international humanitarian principles. The United States remains the largest resettlement country in the world, receiving more than half of all refugees resettled world wide each year through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).”
What can I do to help?
There are many opportunities to help the refugees who are resettled into Las Vegas. The African Community Center accepts volunteers, in-kind donations, and cash assistance from individuals, community groups, churches and organizations. Click on the link above, “Help ACC”, to see a list of our most needed items, or to find out how to make a cash donation or volunteer with our organization!