Today, on World Refugee Day, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reaffirms the individual dignity of tens of millions of people forced to flee their countries to escape conflict, persecution, or the impact of natural disasters. These are individuals who feel they have no choice but to leave their homes behind and embark on an unforeseen journey, not knowing when—or if—they will ever be able to return home.
The United Nations estimates that more than 80 million people were driven from their homes by the end of 2020, and nearly 21 million of them are refugees who have fled across an international border. Due to longer-lasting conflicts, greater political and economic instability, and increasing climate-change shocks, these numbers are increasing every year, placing us in the midst of the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Despite the ongoing conflict and insecurity we are witnessing in places like Syria, and South Sudan, it is encouraging to see host countries, often supported by USAID, come together and provide refugees with relief, opportunity, and a sense of purpose.
As a nation of immigrants and refugees, our support for refugees reinforces who we are as Americans. As the single largest provider of humanitarian assistance worldwide, the U.S. will continue to provide life-saving aid to refugees that helps them rebuild their lives; empowers them with the tools to be self-reliant; and places them on the path to a peaceful, prosperous, and hopeful future.
Nobody chooses to become a refugee. These are people who have fled because their lives and the lives of those they love most depend on it. On this World Refugee Day and every day, we stand together with the millions of refugees around the world, and the host countries and communities that support them.