The 1951 Refugee Convention states that a refugee is someone 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 to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” This means that refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm. Oftentimes refugees live in camps outside of their home countries for many years waiting to return, but when the return is no longer an option, they are resettled in foreign countries such as the United States. Refugee status is a form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the above definition of refugee and who are of special humanitarian concern to the United States.
Who are those that receive Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs?)
A special group that World Relief resettles are persons with Special Immigrant Visas, or SIVs. Most of them are from Iraq or Afghanistan, and received SIVs because they cooperated with the U.S. government/military forces in their home countries. You can read more about SIVs by clicking the link.
Who are asylees?
An asylee is an alien in the United States who is found to be unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality, or to seek the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. For persons with no nationality, the country of nationality is considered to be the country in which the alien last habitually resided. Asylees are eligible to adjust to lawful permanent resident status after one year of continuous presence in the United States.
Who are Internally displaced persons (IDPs)?
Internally displaced persons (IDPs), unlike refugees, have not crossed an international border to find sanctuary but have remained inside their home countries. Even if they have fled for similar reasons as refugees, IDPs legally remain under the protection of their own government – even though that government might be the cause of their flight.
How do refugees come to the U.S?
Who do we serve?
WRD serves refugees (including those with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs)) and asylees being resettled in North Carolina. These refugees come from all over the world, but we typically receive refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, including, but not limited to the following nations: Central African Republic, the Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Burma/Myanmar, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Each year, approximately 1,000 new refugees are resettled in the Triangle area. In fiscal year 2016, World Relief Durham will serve about 275 of these refugees. There is an even larger foreign-born, also called “newcomer”, population, living in the Triangle. The 2010 Census data conservatively estimates the newcomer population, including refugees, to be 160,000 people within the Triangle. So overall, therefore there are 160,000+ newcomers living in the Triangle, and an additional 1,000 refugees arriving annually. This is a huge presence in our community.
For more information on refugees in general and in-depth cultural backgrounds on some of the refugee populations that WRD serves, click the previous links to the Cultural Orientation Resource Center online.
Why serve refugees?
Why focus on serving refugees when there are so many native-born people facing difficulties? There are many answers we give: humanitarian concerns, Christ’s call to welcome the stranger, the parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ’s love to us when we were foreigners, the importance of diversity and the church’s call to be witnesses of Christ’s love throughout the world, etc.
If justice is about relationships that work, then we have a chance to create mutually beneficial relationships with some of the most vulnerable people in our world: refugees.
Our foreign-born neighbors remind us that in this world we cannot pursue justice in the U.S. alone without working for justice alongside all people everywhere. With the nations at our doorsteps, serving refugees in the Triangle area is an opportunity for us to stand for the vulnerable. Refugee partnership, service, and ministry combine international missions, social justice, community development, holistic service, and hospitality. Individuals, families, small groups, student clubs, and entire churches have the chance to not only learn about vulnerable populations around the globe but to build friendships with them, welcoming them into our community and encouraging them as they rebuild their lives here.