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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Protracted Refugee Situations

Eric P. Schwartz
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
Washington, DC
February 25, 2011


Hello, my name is Eric Schwartz and I’m the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.

The U.S. Government currently supports international programs to address protracted refugee situations in every part of the world. Today we’re proud to publically launch a strategy we’ve been developing for the past several months to address six of these ongoing situations. We believe focused diplomatic engagement can have lasting impact in efforts to resolve these crises.

Collectively the six protracted situation affect the lives of millions of refugees whose futures remain uncertain as their status as refugees linger, in some cases for decades. We developed this strategy in collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and with input from our non-governmental organization partners and U.S. embassies. Our goal is to promote more active efforts in six situations, including for:

  • Afghans in Pakistan,
  • Bhutanese in Nepal,
  • Burmese in Thailand,
  • Bosnians and Croats in Serbia,
  • Liberians in West Africa, and
  • Somalis in Kenya.

Our focus on these six particular situations does not diminish ongoing U.S. support to other populations around the world, such as Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, or Colombian refugees in the Andes region. The United States provides humanitarian assistance according to assessed needs and principles of universality and impartiality. This means that we strive to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees, conflict victims, internally displaced people, and other vulnerable populations in every region of the world, including in both protracted and emergency situations. PRM will continue to be engaged and provide funding for the over 30 protracted refugee situations worldwide.

Recognizing that UNHCR is actively engaged in these situations as well as those highlighted in the High Commissioner’s initiative on Protracted Refugee Situations, the U.S. Government will continue to work in partnership with UNHCR and other international and non-governmental organizations, as well as donors and host governments to resolve all protracted refugee situations.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to review the information we’ve provided on the new webpage devoted to implementing our strategy.

Thank you.

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