Letter from Assistant Secretary Julia Taft, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, October 12, 1998.
Dear Friend of PRM:
Our informal Quarterly seeks to keep you abreast of PRM activities and highlights. This covers the period of July-September.
PRM's Admissions Office ended the fiscal year on a high note, bringing in almost 77,000 refugees for permanent resettlement in the U.S. That's 2,000 more than we budgeted for at the beginning of FY 1998, and 7,000 more than were admitted in FY 1997. Savings on processing and transportation costs for the first 75,000 provided the funds for the additional refugees. Within the total, there were other noteworthy items. While we originally anticipated resettling 25,000 refugees from the former Yugoslavia (mostly Bosnians), in the end more than 30,000 are beginning new lives here. We reached our goal of resettling 7,000 from Africa, and now we're looking to FY 1999, which calls for resettling 12,000 Africans. We also brought in 11,000 refugees from East Asia, more than half of whom came through our Resettlement Opportunity for Vietnamese Refugees--ROVR. We anticipate all interviews for ROVR will be completed by January, and final refugees will be processed and resettled by the end of FY 2000.
On admissions for FY 1999, the President authorized a total resettlement
ceiling of 78,000
on September 30. His decision followed Secretary Albright's formal consultations with Representatives and Senators on September 17-18. The Secretary underscored our strong commitment to refugee resettlement and defended the numbers we requested by pointing to the many dangerous areas around the world. Although there were some questions raised about aspects of our resettlement program and its level, overall, I was reassured at the core bipartisan support that exists in Congress for the program.
Emergency in Kosovo
As events deteriorated in Kosovo, and with winter approaching, the President on September 9 authorized drawing $20 million from his Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund--ERMA--to aid refugees and 300,000 internally displaced persons. The Bureau provided $10 million of these funds to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and $6 million to UNICEF, the World Food Program, the World Health Organization, and four non-governmental organizations--NGOs. We are providing the remaining funds to other relief agencies.
I visited Kosovo and the region for a first-hand look the last week of August. Since returning, I've participated in briefing Congress and UN Security Council staff, as well as talking to the media about the grim situation there. Other senior officials from the State Department and USAID also visited recently, as did Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Including support from PRM, USAID, and DoD, the U.S. Government has committed more than $58 million in recent months to meet Kosovo's humanitarian needs. Yet, unless there is a cease-fire and the Serbian Government permits unfettered access by relief agencies to displaced persons, many may die from exposure as temperatures plummet in the coming winter.
Foreign Service life means periodic turnover among PRM-funded refugee coordinators, so we brought the team to Washington in early September for a week of consultations and training in program monitoring and evaluation. Here's the worldwide lineup for refugee officers:
|Abidjan--Janet Beik||Amman--Maura Connelly||Bangkok--John Crowley|
|Brussels--Kim DeBlauw||Cairo--Carolyn Ennis||Geneva--Donna Trapey, Mary Lange, Andrew Erickson|
|Havana--Ellen Cosgrove||Kampala--Liane Dorsey||Zagreb--Sarah Poole|
|Nairobi--Kevin Richardson||Sarajevo--Carol Hammond||Islamabad--Linda Thomas-Greenfield|
PRM hosted a conference in July in L'viv, Ukraine, to review and evaluate coordinated U.S.-European Union information campaigns in Ukraine and Poland to prevent trafficking in women. Participants supported information campaigns as anti-trafficking mechanisms, and we are exploring with the EU the value of mounting similar campaigns in other countries in central and eastern Europe.
As the new fiscal year began, Deputy Assistant Secretary Marguerite Rivera Houze attended, with the First Lady, the "Vital Voices" conference in Uruguay. The event promoted expanding women's participation in political, legal, and economic life. Marguerite then traveled to Ontario for a meeting of the Regional Consultative Group on Migration (the "Puebla Group"), which focused on the organization's plan of action. The migration group consists of the 10 governments of Central and North America.
Congratulations to Brunson McKinley, a PRM alum, who began his term as Director General of the International Organization of Migration on October 1.
Other Items of Interest
As the new fiscal year begins, a continuing resolution funds State Department operations. The Senate supported PRM's request for $670 million--$650 million for Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) and $20 million for the President's Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund (ERMA). A House-Senate conference should tackle this soon.
Here's how the Bureau committed resources, including by region, in FY 1998:
|Refugees to Israel||80,000,000||--||80,000,000|
*For Washington Processing Center, Population Office administrative costs
I close on a sad note. The humanitarian community lost a great
and true friend when Swissair Flight 111 crashed off Nova Scotia
on September 2. UNHCR's Pierce Gerety was among several UN members
or associates who died in the horrible accident. Like many others,
PRM staffers, who had worked with him, were stunned by his death.
As a New York Times writer put it, "He was admired
by other humanitarian workers for his astuteness, wry humor, and
coolness in the face of trouble." All true.
Julia V. Taft
Assistant Secretary of State
for Population, Refugees, and Migration
[end of document]
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