On World Refugee Day, we recognize the plight of millions of refugees who have fled their homes due to conflict and persecution, and we reaffirm our commitment to provide life-saving assistance for the most vulnerable. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of those forcibly displaced rose to more than 70 million worldwide, making this the highest on record. We see the effects in places ranging from Syria to Afghanistan to South Sudan – more than half of the refugees in the world today have fled from these countries alone. Venezuela is now the second largest displacement crisis in the world, where four million have been forced to flee their homes and their country. All of this underscores the importance of responding in an effective, efficient, and comprehensive way.
The United States is proud to be the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance worldwide. We assist displaced people as close to their homes as possible to help meet their needs until they can safely and voluntarily return home. In Fiscal Year 2018, we provided more than $8 billion in humanitarian assistance, including funding to assist tens of millions of refugees. U.S. assistance saves lives and provides a foundation for recovery and renewed self-reliance through programs that provide emergency food and water, health assistance, shelter, job skills, education, and more. When we help refugees become active contributors to local economies, it enhances long-term stability for all, including refugees, host communities, and the countries to which refugees may eventually return and help rebuild when possible.
The best way to help the most people is to work to end conflicts that drive displacement in the first place, to target the application of foreign aid in a smarter way, and to promote burden-sharing with partners and allies. We continue to call on other donors, including the private sector, to provide greater resources to address these urgent needs. We applaud those who are currently making critical contributions to support refugees – ranging from national governments to local communities – even in situations where their own resources are already scarce. We will continue to work with all refugee-hosting countries to find solutions that help in alleviating challenges.