Tuesday marks World Refugee Day, a designation made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The number of refugees and displaced persons in the world is higher than it has ever been since World War II, with some 65.5 million people displaced throughout the world right now.
SOURCE: St. Louis Public Radio
“It has grown quickly,” said Anna Crosslin, the president and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis, on St. Louis on the Air. “In fact, the population of individuals has doubled in the past four years. Most of those individuals are waiting in refugee camps or countries nearby to their home country, hoping the war will be settled and they can return home. About one percent of the total population of refugees actually get a resettlement offer to another country, including the United States. About 700 to 800 of those individuals come to St. Louis.”
Last year, because President Obama changed the cap on the number of refugees allowed to be resettled in the United States from 70,000 to 85,000, the number of refugees settled in St. Louis was the highest it has been since the 1990s. Around 1,150 refugees were resettled last year.
This year that number has dipped below even normal refugee resettlement numbers before that cap was extended, Crosslin said. It has been a turbulent year as far as refugee policy goes with a new presidential administration and President Trump’s executive orders on immigration.
Nedim Ramic, an attorney with the Bajric & Ramic Law Office, came to the United States as a refugee 18 years ago. He said that World Refugee Day brings up memories for him of when he was forced from his home in Bosnia, unsure of where he would end up.
Crosslin and Ramic discussed the common myths and misperceptions of refugees, including how much aid they receive, how they are vetted and processed to come to the United States, and their ability to return to their home country on St. Louis on the Air. Listen to the full conversation here: