TRANSCRIPT: Foreign Press Center Briefing with Anne Richard, Assitant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration



TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015, 9:30 A.M. EDT


MODERATOR:  Hello.  So yeah, we’ll get started.  I know several of you have been here for a few minutes, but we’re really pleased to have Assistant Secretary Richard here at such a time as this, and this is such a topical issue and she comes with a lot of insight specifically on what the U.S. is doing.  So with that brief intro, the assistant secretary will make some comments, and then we’ll open it up for questions, for dialogue, and conversation.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  So as my colleague says, I’m the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, and I’ve been doing the job for about three and a half years.  And sometimes I facetiously say I have produced more refugees on my watch than any of my predecessors, which is not a good thing.  But the interest in refugees from the media and the public has grown in recent days, and I think that the photo that went viral of the poor Syrian child who drowned on the beach accounts for some of this, and the fact that an existing refugee situation that has been very much a feature of the countries that neighbor Syria has now expanded, so that it’s a very visible stream of people coming to Europe. 

But for those of us who work on migration and refugee issues, their plight is nothing new; and in fact, it’s not the only place in the world where we see large numbers of refugees and migrants.  And at the State Department, we pride ourselves on being the top humanitarian donor to the UN and the best NGOs for humanitarian operations in response to these conflict situations, these very complex situations. 

And we also resettle refugees in the United States.  That’s part of my bureau’s responsibilities is to run a program to bring – to work with UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration, with some of – a very good network of nongovernmental organizations, including a network across the United States.  And at the end of this fiscal year, which is imminent – September 30th is the end of our fiscal year – we will have brought 70,000 refugees to the United States for the third year in a row. 

And you will have heard that the Secretary of State in Berlin – was it just the weekend before last? – announced that we will increase those numbers.  So the fiscal year that starts October 1st, we’ll bring 85,000 refugees, and then the following year we intend to bring 100,000 refugees.

Now, these numbers are refugees from all around the world.  The top places that we bring refugees from is Iraq, Burma, and Somalia.  And – but the number of nationalities in our program is quite high; it’s like 60 different nationalities but smaller numbers of the rest.  And we also encourage other countries to do this as well.  And our outreach to other countries about that is picking up as we see world leaders and witnessing what’s happening in Europe.  As the Syria crisis goes from being a country in crisis to a region in crisis to now a global situation, we see that other countries too are trying to figure out what role they can play in trying to help the refugees.

In a situation like we see in Europe, we are providing assistance through UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration to ensure that there is humane treatment of the migrants, humane techniques of border management, so that – and but – and this is mostly at the periphery of Europe.  These are programs that are being carried in Macedonia, in Serbia, in Greece.  But obviously, the kind of relationships we have with Germany, France, Great Britain – we’re not going to assume that they don’t know the first thing about border management.  They obviously have a lot of capable people.  What we see there is that we need to work in partnership with them and support them in ways that they believe are helpful.

In looking at the roots of what’s happening in Europe, we know that a large number of the migrants are Syrians; and so if you hear my boss, Secretary Kerry, talk about the European situation, he will quickly pivot to talk about Syria, which I think is right.  And so we have been working now for years to support programs in – here, I’ll move this – in Lebanon, in Jordan, to help UNHCR get – to facilitate the Turkish Government’s refugee response, which has been quite strong.  But also there were Syrians who fled to northern Iraq, and then since then there has been major displacement inside Iraq, so some of the people in the flow to Europe are Iraqis.  We are very interested in making sure that we roll back ISIL in Iraq, but my role as the humanitarian office in the State Department is to try to get those displaced people home again inside Iraq.  And then some of the Syrians have gone as far afield as Egypt.

So in all of these places, we are supporting UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration, and UNRWA, the UN Relief Works Agency that works with the Palestinian refugees, to try to bring help, bring the basics – food, medical care, water and sanitation – but also protection, a sense that people will not be abused or exploited, which is unfortunately one ugly aspect of these big movements of people. 

We’ve seen the growth of highly organized smuggling networks.  There is a great deal of agreement among world leaders that we have to crack down on smuggling and trafficking networks, but of course, that agreement has to be translated into taking steps on the ground.  And so I look to colleagues who work on law enforcement, who work on tracking these groups, to actually do the action against them, but I do care about the people who get trapped and caught up in these smuggling networks. 

Specifically on the Syria crisis, since the start of the crisis, the U.S. has provided over $4.5 billion in humanitarian assistance.  We say that’s more than any other single donor, although, of course, you have to realize that Turkey has done quite a bit in its own country.  So we’re not saying more than anyone else related to the crisis, but certainly in terms of the traditional donors we have a leading spot.  And then also we recently provided additional assistance to the Iraq situation, so that’s $478 million.

Last May, I was in Southeast Asia meeting with ASEAN countries in Bangladesh to talk about the situation there – a mixed flow of economic migrants from Bangladesh but also refugees from Burma who had been exploited and taken advantage of and terrible things had happened to them.  Again, sort of the same conversations about how do we save lives, first and foremost; how do we crack down on the smugglers and the criminal networks and the traffickers; and then how do we ensure that whether people are economic migrants or bona fide refugees, that they get treated in a humane manner, that they are treated as we’d want to be treated – treated well?

We’re very concerned that the UN appeals for humanitarian aid across the board for all crises are so underfunded.  The U.S. is fortunate that we have gotten support from our Congress for this humanitarian budget, but we’re very concerned that other governments, even if they’re providing more assistance than they have in the past, they’re not keeping pace with this series of serious crises around the world.  And so we see how UN humanitarian agencies are really grappling with the problem of what to do about this.  Do they do as the World Food Program has done, which is cut back on rations and target truly the most vulnerable?  But that still leaves a lot of people who weren’t getting help and felt that they needed the help out now, and that’s very concerning. 

Our bureau is the top funder of the UN High Commission for Refugees.  Our counterparts at the U.S. Agency for International Development are the top funders of the World Food Program.  So the U.S. takes pride in these programs that help displaced people, but we are very alarmed that the rest of the world seems to not be able to marshal the budgets to respond.

So what are the solutions?  Well, the real solution, of course, is that peace breaks out all over the world and everyone who works on these issues knows that the truly right number of refugees is zero, that people don’t have to leave their homes, that they can go home again; but until that happens, what we would like to see is more contributions from other governments.  We’re very happy that some of the Gulf countries are stepping forward in recent days, and it seemed to be more prominent this year at the UN General Assembly in attending meetings about these humanitarian issues and talking about them, and so that is most welcome.  And my hope for the Gulf countries is that they become sort of routine donors, every – on an annual basis to these UN agencies, because in the past, while Gulf countries can be quite involved in charitable giving, they often do it sort of as a one-off, unique giving to a different cause every year.  And so we would like them to truly be part of the sort of roundtable of donors that do this year in and year out.

We also would like to see more private sector involvement, and I think this may be happening, that seeing just this past week with Mark Zuckerberg talking about the internet for refugees, and I just came from this morning a – the Global Business Coalition for Education.  And they listened to the Lebanese education minister and the Jordanian minister of planning and industry, and they listened to the Turkish head of their emergency response group.  So this is different and very much needed, and also to get the public to do more, as the President actually is interested in having happen.

So more foundation, private giving; more public involvement, businesses involved; more governments that haven’t been involved before would be most welcome.  And I think also we need to break down the silos between the humanitarian relief world and the development assistance world.  And this is something that a lot of senior people agree on, but it’s very hard to move the bureaucracies.  Within my own government but also at the UN and other governments, money tends to flow in silos.  The relief humanitarian world operated in conflict zones; the development experts would try to get in and help countries that were poor, and clearly, this kind of a significant crisis, a very complex crisis like we’re seeing right now, is – requires sort of an all-hands-on-deck.  It requires the energies of all of us if we’re going to make any kind of headway. 

So why don’t I stop there and listen to your questions.

MODERATOR:  Any questions from the table?

QUESTION:  Well, I’d like to hear a little bit more about what the U.S. is hoping to do more in Syria.  There have been some calls that the U.S. isn’t doing enough.  I know there’s a lot of talk that the U.S. —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Who said that?  Just kidding.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  A lot of talk that the U.S. is the largest humanitarian – single humanitarian donor.  But could we be taking in more refugees?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Well, the President has said – let me give you the numbers so you know.  By the end of this year, so in a couple days, we’ll have brought 1,700 refugees from Syria to the United States.  And then next year our goal is 10,000, and the year after that we really want a steep ramp-up.  And the reason we can’t bring hundreds of thousands overnight is because we have a very slow and deliberate process that does several things.  It makes sure that the people who are – have applied are bona fide refugees; they’re fleeing persecution or war, and their case holds up to scrutiny.  Then we have to make sure that we’re not bringing people who are – have bad intentions. 

And we have brought 3 million – more than 3 million refugees to the United States since the Vietnam era, since the mid-1970s, and most of those people have been law-abiding people who have actually contributed more to the United States than they have taken from it.  I mean, they’re taxpayers.  They’re hard-working.  They’re incredibly motivated.  Many of them, after five years, take the U.S. citizenship exam and become American citizens.  So most of them end up staying in the United States and are committed to their adopted country.

But we have had instances of people slipping through – not many, but a handful of instances where people have planned to do something, send weaponry and whatnot back to their home countries.  So what we have done since that is we have tightened our security process, and one of the things that we screen for is to make sure we screen out people who are lying to us, people who are criminals, or people who are would-be terrorists.  And like I say, the odds of a refugee falling into that category are slim, but I am charged by the members of Congress and by members of our national security community to ensure that our process includes this screening.  So that’s partly what slows down our process of bringing refugees to the United States. 

But I think that we don’t have to prove to anyone that we’re a friendly – a country that’s friendly to refugees, given that we’ve taken so many over the years.  So I suspect that our numbers that we’re bringing from Syria will climb in the next few years.

QUESTION:  Hi.  My name is Daisuke Nakai with Asahi Shimbun.  Thank you very much for taking the time.  For a sort of follow-up, on the phone conference you did the other day, I think you mentioned that the 70,000 resettlement number is more than other – all the other countries —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  All other countries combined.  That’s right.

QUESTION:  At the same time —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  The UNHCR resettles about 100,000 per year, so that’s 70 percent.

QUESTION:  At the same time, there’s many, many more people showing up in Europe.  And as you mentioned, it’s a slow and deliberate process, but I think there’s also more focus on what can be done right now to alleviate what is happening.  And is there anything that the U.S. can do or to – right now?  And also, how long does it take to resettle a person?  You said slow and deliberate but —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Eighteen to twenty-four months.  And we’re looking to see if we can accelerate that without cutting corners on security.  And so we’re going to take a very cool-eyed look at that whole process, and we have to because we’re under so much pressure from senior leadership in the State Department and in the White House to do more. 

Now, I mentioned that the Secretary was in Berlin and had announced these new targets for our refugee resettlement program.  The next day we announced more money for – it was $419 million for aid to the Syria – to respond to the Syria crisis.  And that’s where we got to $4.5 billion, so that’s only a week old – that figure.  So we are determined to support those countries that have been bearing the brunt of the refugee situation. 

The other thing we’re going to do is to continue to try to get as much aid as possible inside Syria because there are so many displaced people inside Syria – Syrians who were living, minding their own business, innocent civilians who then were bombed out of their own homes or fled their own homes because of the conflict.  And amazingly, they have tried to remain inside Syria.  So that’s 7.6 million people who are trying to stay in their own home country and with a little bit of help might be able to do that.  So it’s very hard to deliver aid inside Syria.  We – once again, we support those organizations that are trying to get the aid in through whatever channels work, to whatever parts of Syria.

I mean, aid gets to all of the governorates of Syria, but all of the parties to the conflict – to a one, they all manage to harass and endanger and threaten aid workers and aid deliveries.  And so it’s a truly difficult place to operate.  I’ve been to all the neighboring countries.  I haven’t been to Syria since 2008, so I – this is – but I ask every single person who’s been inside to – that I meet, to tell me how it’s going, do they see the aid showing up, are they getting through the roadblocks.  And they are, but it’s just really difficult.

QUESTION:  During the ’70s – so the high mark was, what, 50,000 people per year?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  No, higher.  I don’t have the numbers with me.  We can get them to you, but during the Vietnam era, we brought like 150,000 Vietnamese, I believe, in one year.  I have the number 200,000 in my head – maybe that was a couple years, or something.  But it was really quite substantial.  But of course, that was pre-9/11.  And so at that time, for example, we would bring Vietnamese to Guam to process them.  Or in the ’90s, we flew people from Kosovo to Fort Dix, New Jersey.  We brought Iraqis into New Jersey.  So people who are advocates on behalf of refugees, like I used to be – so my friends – will call me and say “Anne, why aren’t you flying in hundreds of thousands of people like we did in the old days?”  And I said, “Well, we can’t.  It’s post-September 11th and we must take every possible step to ensure that we have as tight as humanly possible a vetting system.”

So we will try to accelerate that, but I can’t say, “Oh, security doesn’t matter.”  It really matters to many Americans.

QUESTION:  So you can’t see the numbers approaching what they did in the ’70s or ’80s in the near future?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Yeah, well, not under our current system in the short term.  I think we can – what I’m convinced about is that the U.S. can be a home to that many refugees because I’ve seen us – think about it: in the last three years we’ll have brought 210,000 refugees to the United States.  I know we can receive and host and appreciate many more.  That kind of shocked some Americans, because I think they don’t know a lot about the program and they haven’t noticed that the neighbors down the street are actually people from – refugees. 

I was in Spartanburg, South Carolina and they just weren’t sure that it would – the program would work, not realizing that the biggest glass salesman – Kapasi Glassware – was a refugee.  (Laughter.)  So he was living amongst them for years, and so I think part of it is realizing that refugees are not a horde of scary-looking men headed your way.  They are families with hardworking parents, caring grandparents, adorable children who will soak up the English language in school like this, and that – they will actually strengthen this country, as they have in the past – more diversity, more vitality, more energy.  So I won’t give you my whole patriotic speech on this.  (Laughter.)  I’ll curb myself at that moment.

QUESTION:  Vasco De Jesus.  Vasco Press Brazil.  I’m curious to know about the processing centers, the mechanism.  Because you mentioned that it takes from 18-24 months for refugees to be resettled here.  And —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Right.  So would you like me to walk through the process a little bit?

QUESTION:  I’m just curious because I was in Central America during the Central American crisis in the early ’80s.  We had a Mariel boatlift and –

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Mm-hmm.  Cubans coming to the United States?  Right.

QUESTION:  Cubans.  Yes.  But then one of the processing centers became Costa Rica.  And then I was in Costa Rica and all of a sudden 2,000 and 2,500 Cubans arrived in the city and the city was not prepared.  And psychopaths and hardened criminals —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Yeah, because they emptied the prisons, too, yeah.

QUESTION:  And the – Costa Rica used to be a paradise then.  And then all of a sudden became scary place overnight and then we were working on processing them, and it was very, very difficult thing.  So where does —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  So we need to get you to Hungary on the next plane.  (Laughter.) 

QUESTION:  Oh – so the American processing is in —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  No, no, no.  I was teasing.  I was saying you’re the experienced person.

QUESTION:  Oh, okay.  All right.  (Laughter.) 

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  We need to get you to Europe.

QUESTION:  Sorry.  So —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  So we have resettlement support centers around the world in places where there are high concentrations of refugees.  And several are run by the International Organization for Migration and some are run by other not-for-profits who have competed to have that job.  And so for example, we have them in Istanbul and Amman and Nairobi, in Southeast Asia, I believe it used to be in Bangkok – I think it’s Malaysia right now.  And what we do is – there’s one in Vienna that was working with people coming out of the former Soviet Union and also from Iran. 

So these organizations take a referral from UNHCR, from the UN refugee agency, and then puts together a case, the story of that refugee family or that refugee individual.  And then the case – they put together all of the material.  Sometimes refugees don’t have any documentation because they fled horrible things.  But usually, especially in the Middle East, people will have some kind of identity card or family ration booklet or something.  And so they will try to tell the story.  That’s presented then to a Department of Homeland Security interviewer. 

And one of the ways – there’s a couple ways we can bring more refugees.  One is we have – if we fund UNHCR to do more referrals, because that part of UNHCR could be strengthened.  One is if we get more Department of Homeland Security interviewers out more frequently, because they travel out every few months, say.  And in the Middle East, some of the places they’re going are somewhat dangerous or can be dangerous, can go through periods of uncertain security.  And in Africa, the trick is the logistics of getting out to the places where the refugees are because sometimes they’re – like in the Kakuma Camp, for example, in Kenya – you – that’s not in Nairobi; you’ve got to get out to the camp.

So we have to invest in our own abilities to have more people go and do that.  And then in our budget we have to determine the trade-offs between providing assistance overseas for refugees in their countries of first asylum versus strengthening this program to bring refugees here.  I think we can do both, and I think we can get support from the Congress to do both, and I know my bosses want us to do both.  So – but like I say, our fiscal year’s about to start.  We’re going to probably be under a continuing resolution, which means that we don’t know what our budget is.  But I’m optimistic on this.

QUESTION:  Quick tangent.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Does the 70,000 number you said include Cubans under the wet foot/dry foot?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Yeah.  We do include Cubans under that, but I don’t have the numbers for you with me today.  But we can get you more on that.  That’s a very smart question.

QUESTION:  Just a question on where the Syrian refugees are primarily, I guess, clumped in the U.S. once they have been resettled.  And I guess some communities in the U.S. would say that they don’t want refugees.  What do you say to them?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  That’s a very important question.  I was just thinking about the Cubans.  There’s two ways Cubans get to the U.S.  One is that we have a program for Cubans to apply inside Cuba.  It’s very rare for us to have programs where people can apply inside the country.  And – we do it in Iraq, for example, for people who’ve worked with U.S. troops and things like that, or worked with the media.  And then in Cuba they can apply and come.  So they’re in the program.  Cubans who make their own way to the United States and then seek asylum, they don’t get resettled under this program.  But they do get benefits down the line that the Health and Human Services Department provides. 

Your question was very important.  So would you say it one more time, and then —

QUESTION:  So the first question was:  Where in the U.S. are the communities of Syrian refugees?


QUESTION:  And then —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  So if I showed you a map, you would see that there are over 180 places, cities and towns across the U.S., where refugees are resettled.  And then within that, some of them have more than one organization working.  So in terms of sort of the storefront or the visibility, it’s more like 300 and – more than 300.  And it’s east coast, west coast – Texas is very big; the Midwest is big in terms of the Twin Cities.  Now, we resettle refugees all across the U.S., and we don’t pick a city to be the new capital of – Little Damascus or something.  Instead, we believe most parts of the United States can be a – offer a home to refugees.  Sometimes refugees through their own networks will hear that a particular city has got jobs, or has got something on offer that is particularly useful. 

In Spartanburg, South Carolina, where I was, they have a lot of Ukrainian churches.  So that is a – something that might appeal to refugees who are fleeing the current conflict in Ukraine.  So you’ll see secondary migration.  So we’ve seen concentrations, then, of people from the Middle East in the Detroit, Dearborn area.  There’s a very strong Chaldean, which is a type of Christian community from Iraq, but if you’re from anywhere in the Middle East, maybe you’d want to use their supermarkets, because you get a taste of home.  (Laughter.)  And then also I’ve been to – for example, in San Diego there also are Chaldeans there, but then I’ve been to – I had lunch once in a restaurant in a part of town called Little Mogadishu.  And as an American, I had no idea there was a Little Mogadishu in San Diego, California. 

So you will see this sort of secondary migration, which is normal and – but it’s not by design.  It’s by – once people come to the United States, they’re free to move.  They have to stay – if they want the three months of assistance we provide to them for reception and placement in the U.S., they have to stay in one place.  But after that, they’re just like Americans; they can go anywhere.

QUESTION:  And the second question was:  What do you say to communities that do not want refugees in their —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Well, I try to educate them about the program and who the refugees are and what they’re fleeing.  And I find that when people see that there’s a human face on these families, if they see a photograph of the family, if they hear about the family’s story, all of a sudden Americans are very generous.  They’ll open up their hearts.  They’ll say, oh, well, my great-grandfather came from country X, so I would like to help as well.  But when they hear as just sort of refugees, as if it’s just a horde people – a swarm, a threat, a problem – then that sort of gives them the impression that they’re being invaded.  That’s not at all what’s happening here.  It’s families that have had terrible things happen to them, who have somehow miraculously survived, who are very resilient, and would make great residents in this country.

Can we do a time check?  What are my – what are my —

MODERATOR:  You have 10 more minutes.


QUESTION:  Just mentioned Little Mogadishu and also the Twin Cities – I know the FBI has been having a lot of interest in Minneapolis and the Somali population there.  Obviously they weren’t just refugees; there was a number of factors going in there.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  They weren’t the best refugees, you said?

QUESTION:  No, they weren’t just refugees.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Oh, just refugees.  Okay.

QUESTION:  There’s also – and I —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  We don’t have a competition.  We love all our refugees.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  I know.  With the situation in Minneapolis and the Somali population, there has been talk about a lot of people – well, not a lot, but some returning to various organizations or going back to the Middle East.  What are the lessons you think can be brought out of that?  Is there anything that could have been done better or could be done right now?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Well, this is a perplexing thing as to why young people find some of these terrorist groups attractive.  And not many do, but a small proportion do, and some are the children of immigrants and refugees and some are homegrown Americans.  So this is a much broader issue than – I don’t think there’s anything that makes – in fact, I know there’s no evidence that refugees are more inclined to radicalization than the general population, either the one they’re coming from or this one in the U.S.  I mean, I think we have to take this very seriously.  I defer to others who are experts on why a teenaged youth, either the children of Somali refugees or the children of my children – who, thankfully, don’t seem to be prone to radicalization just yet in this area – (laughter) – that what sparks that interest and then what feeds that interest, and how do we prevent that from happening.  Those are very important questions. 

But I really think that the refugees we bring to the United States, including the parents of these youth, are people who want to live here; live here in peace.  They’ve sought stability, they’ve sought education for their children, they’ve sought a new, fresh start in life.  And that piece of the program is so, so valuable.  So there are – I think there is an issue there, but I don’t think it’s a significant part of our program.

QUESTION:  The United States obviously – Ilie Fugaru from Mediafax, Romania.  The United States obviously has a great experience in dealing with refugees over the years.  However, Europeans – it appears they just face the problem as big as it is right now with a wave of refugees from Syria and still coming and pouring.  And obviously they don’t have the management and the expertise to deal with this kind of situation, so how – I mean, you mentioned the UNHCR and the international organizations as primary points, first points of referrals and of check for refugees. 

The main worry of population in Europe – and part of the media amplifies this – is that many of these refugees don’t have any IDs, don’t have any way – there’s no way to tell if they’re true refugees or just economic refugees or even terrorists.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Well, we respect the rights of governments to control their borders and to decide who comes across and who doesn’t.  And certainly we do that in the United States.


ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  So – but there are ways when there’s doubt if someone shows up without documents to do an interview and find out.  “So you say you’re from Somalia; now, can you tell me about your hometown?  And where did you grow up, where did you walk?  And here we have a Somali, so would you please talk to him in your native language.” 

So I think that the – some of the economic migrants in this stream – who, like I say, are entrepreneurial, brave – sometimes these are the most capable people in the society.  This is what the U.S. tradition has been.  But they do not get the same protections as people fleeing persecution and war under refugee conventions.

So there – it is perfectly all right to return those people to their homes under international law, but what we are asking is that countries do a careful job in screening, that they use humane techniques and practices, that they receive people well.  There’s been some wonderful stories coming – I mean, even as Europe grapples with this, there have been some wonderful stories about European citizens just spontaneously helping people going along this route or arriving in Germany.  And that is to be admired, I think; that is to be celebrated.  And we can build on that, those impulses – those humanitarian impulses among ordinary people to try to do a better job on this, I think.

QUESTION:  Okay.  My – I guess my question was if the United States is willing to provide expertise and to provide this kind of support in – to the Europeans in —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICHARD:  Yes, but I don’t think we just parachute in.  I think we sort of have to be invited.  And my sense is that working through these premier international organizations is a very good way to do it.  We’re going to have later today – the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is convening a G7+ meeting to talk about doing more for the UN agencies that help the refugees.  That is a very smart thing to do. 

My point is the U.S. has been, year in and year out, a top funder of those organizations, and so for us that’s not a radical idea; that’s something that we take very seriously, is our responsibility.

MODERATOR:  We’re going to have to end it here, actually.  Thank you so much for your time and attention.  Thank you for your time as well, ma’am.


MODERATOR:  We will offer a transcript as soon as it becomes available.

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PROTECTION OFFICER (CHILD) Job posted by: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Posted on: September 4, 2015

Protection Officer (Child)

Job posted by: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Posted on: September 4, 2015

Job description

The incumbent will work under the direct supervision of the Senior Protection Officer and in close collaboration with the Community Services Officers. He/she has to show an ability to engage and form effective working relationship with implementing partners and any other relevant child protection actors, local authorities and refugees. Accountability (key results that will be achieved) • The operation has a clear protection strategy for children which are developed in line with the child protection systems framework. • The protection needs of children in the operation are known and are met through timely and coordinated action by UNHCR and partners. • Platforms for child participation (e.g. in participatory assessment) exist and are functioning. • Protection interventions for individual children are supported by an effective case management system with a well-functioning best interest mechanisms and standard operating procedures in place. • Protection coordination mechanisms address effectively child protection issues. • Child protection concerns are effectively mainstreamed in other sectors. • Office capacity building plans and strategies include a child protection component and are effectively implemented. Responsibility (process and functions undertaken to achieve results) • Ensure that a system approach to protecting children of concern is adopted within the operation. • Assess the risks and protection factors affecting girls and boys of concern to UNHCR; actively promote the participation of children and adolescents in participatory assessment carried out as part of the AGDM strategy. • Ensure that effective case management is in place for children at risk, including identification, best interests process (BIA and BID), and referral systems, follow-up and monitoring. • Establish the Best interest process, including a Best Interest Determination (BID) panel; ensure that all relevant actors are trained on best interests determination. • Ensure that existing protection monitoring mechanisms adequately capture protection risk facing children and support the establishment of or strengthening of existing community-based child protection monitoring mechanisms. • Set up and chair coordination mechanisms on child protection for the population of concern, as necessary with relevant actors, including UNICEF, ICRC, relevant NGOs and the concerned authorities. • Assess training needs in the area of Child Protection, both with regards to UNHCR staff as well as population of concern, implementing partners and authorities, and conduct relevant training and capacity-building activities. • Advocate and promote birth registration for all children of concern by the Government and by the Government or any other authorities as appropriate. • Ensure that child protection activities are not planned in isolation of other protection and assistance activities but within the strategy of age, gender and diversity mainstreaming using a rights and community based approach. • Provide technical advice and support to ensure child protection issues and concerns are reflected in the work of other sectors. • Lead on the development of Standard Operating Procedure on child protection in collaboration with relevant actors within and outside UNHCR, as well as their implementation. • Prepare regular report on child protection activities. • Perform other duties as required. Authority (decisions made in executing responsibilities and to achieve results) • Enforce compliance with Standard Operating Procedures. • Ensure child protection coordination mechanisms are effective and inclusive. Minimum qualifications and professional experience required: – Education: University degree (B.A.) or higher education relevant to Human Rights preferably in Law, Political Science or International Relations. – Job experience: Minimum 8 years of previous job experience (6 years for M.A. holders) relevant to the function. Experience in refugee International Protection and knowledge of Refugee Law and Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Strong knowledge of child protection work and International Law on children. – Languages: Excellent knowledge of English (C1) and working knowledge of another UN language (B2) are essential (preferably Arabic). Desirable qualifications and competencies: – Relevant knowledge in training methodologies and delivery. – Experience in Best Interest Determination for children. – Skills in interpersonal relations, networking and communication. – Computer skills (Word, Excel, Power Point). – UNHCR Protection Learning Programme. – Experience of Emergency operation and hardship duty station.

How to apply

To Apply and Read a Detailed Job Description, Please Visit:

Education Program Manager Job posted by: Save the Children International Posted on: August 11, 2015

Job description

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children. We work in 120 countries. We save children’s lives; we fight for their rights; we help them fulfil their potential.

We work together, with our partners, to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.

We have over two million supporters worldwide and raised 1.9 billion dollars last year to reach more children than ever before, through programmes in health, nutrition, education, protection and child rights, also in times of humanitarian crises.

Following a major transition, our international programmes are now delivered through a merged operation with c15,000 staff, managed through seven regional hubs and reporting to a relatively small, central office. We’re changing to become more efficient, more aligned, a better partner, a stronger advocate, a magnet for world-class people and relevant for the 21st century.

Contract length: 06 months

The role

The role holder is responsible for establishing, managing and implementing the Education Programme as part of Save the Children’s humanitarian response in Syria.

Qualifications and experience


  • Education to MSc/MA/MEng level in a relevant subject or equivalent field experience
  • Significant management experience (5-6 years) working in an emergency response contexts or fragile states
  • Previous first phase emergency response experience
  • Demonstrated experience in managing education in emergencies for international NGOs.
  • Experience of applying relevant interagency humanitarian frameworks and standards in education in emergencies (for example INEE Minimum Standards)
  • Previous experience of managing a team
  • Previous experience of project management
  • Experience of and commitment to working through systems of community participation and accountability
  • Demonstrated monitoring and evaluation skills
  • Ability to work both in an advisory and a hands on implementation capacity
  • Proven capacity to supervise, train and coach staff
  • Experience of representation, including Cluster coordination, and ability to represent effectively in external forums.
  • Experience of preparing successful funding proposals for donors
  • Ability to write clear and well-argued assessment and project reports
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Strong influencing skills and experience in advocacy
  • Politically and culturally sensitive with qualities of patience, tact and diplomacy
  • A high level of written and spoken English
  • The capacity and willingness to be extremely flexible and accommodating in difficult and sometimes insecure working circumstances.


  • Commitment to the aims and principles of Save the Children. In particular, a good understanding of the Save the Children mandate and child focus and an ability to ensure this continues to underpin our support
  • Fluency in written and oral Arabic or Kurdish desirable

We need to keep children safe so our selection process reflects our commitment to the protection of children from abuse.

To see a full a job description, please visit our website at

Please apply in English using your CV and covering letter as a single document, including your salary expectations for this role.



Syria, Al-Hasakah Governorate, Syria


Start date
September 15, 2015
Application deadline
August 28, 2015
Education requirements
Languages needed
Employment type
Professional level
None specified
Salary details
Job function
Owner’s areas of focus



Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release


March 3, 2015



Begin Text:

The Presidents of El Salvador, Salvador Sánchez Cerén; Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina; Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández; and, the Vice President of the United States, Joseph Biden, met in Guatemala City on March 2-3, 2015, with the President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Alberto Moreno, to discuss the important commitments which will accelerate the implementation of the Plan for the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle of Central America.  The senior representatives also agreed to conduct joint high-level dialogues on security issues with relevant authorities, to discuss social issues with civil society, and to review trade and investment issues through meetings between the U.S. private sector and the private sectors of the Northern Triangle of Central America.  All these meetings will be held in the first half of this year.

The leaders stressed that their governments agreed to continue the development of the Plan for the Alliance for Prosperity of the North Triangle in an expedited and comprehensive manner, through coordinated efforts among the three countries of the Northern Triangle and with the technical support of the Inter-American Development Bank. They will continue this work throughout 2015.  The draft implementation plan and roadmap for each of the above-mentioned topics will be presented in Washington on March 16.  For its part, the Government of the United States reiterated its commitment to support these efforts.

The leaders agreed that the joint regional plan and its continued implementation represent significant milestones for the collaboration among the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The leaders reviewed recent progress in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, including the following examples:

  • El Salvador has passed an Investment Stability Law, giving investors assurances that tax and customs regulations will not change over the course of an investment.  It has also begun the process of restoring one-stop business registration for foreign investors.
  • The Government of El Salvador has created the National Council for Public Security and Coexistence to promote consensus on a public security strategy and a forum for dialogue between the government and multiple social actors; it has also established an Anti-Extortion Task Force.
  • El Salvador has passed the Development and Social Protection Law, which establishes a legal framework to support development, citizen protections, and social inclusion. Likewise, El Salvador conducted ambitious reforms in the area of health, laying the groundwork for a new, integrated health system.  El Salvador also has implemented important educational programs, such as “Full-Time School,” which allows for a holistic approach to expanding the educational system’s intervention model.
  • Guatemala has inducted new police officers through regional academies throughout the country that will be assigned to police stations for those geographic areas, continuing the policy of regionalization with a goal of deploying 35,000 agents nationwide.  This has already reduced murder rates from 46 to 31 persons per every 100,000 inhabitants.
  • Under its plan to implement the National Policy on Integrated Rural Development, the Government of Guatemala has reached agreement with 33 communities on reparations for communities where human rights were violated by the construction of the Chixoy dam, through Government Agreement 378-2014 of the Cabinet Council.
  • Guatemala has achieved a diversified energy grid incorporating new technologies such as natural gas, wind, and solar power, allowing for 60% of its energy generation to be based on renewable sources of energy, which contributes to reducing greenhouse gas effects and fulfills the objectives of Guatemala’s Climate Change Law of 2013.
  • The Government of the Republic of Honduras, in its renewed commitment to transparency in public administration, has become the first country to sign a Cooperation Agreement with Transparency International for the Promotion of Transparency, Combating Corruption, and Strengthening International Transparency Systems, which includes plans to make human resources and government procurement information publicly available.
  • Honduras developed mechanisms aimed at restoring peaceful coexistence, highlighting the following efforts and results: i) air, sea, and ground shields to prevent the entry of drugs into the country; ii) counternarcotics actions to combat the drugs that enter the country; iii) development of effective judicial authorities; iv) strengthening of democratic institutions; v) anti-corruption measures; vi) emphasis on the protection of human rights; vii) actions against poverty; and, viii) a security tax.  These actions resulted in a significant decrease in homicide rates from 86.5 in 2012 to 66.4 in 2014 for every 100,000 inhabitants.  Based on the same commitment, Honduras has extradited 7 Honduran and 8 foreign high-profile drug traffickers involved in Latin American drug networks.
  • In the area of fiscal management, Honduras reduced its fiscal deficit by more than 3 percentage points of GDP, closing at 4.5 in 2014.  Honduras increased tax revenue by 21% in 2014, and took specific actions to control public spending to include specific measures strengthening transparency in its public finances.

These examples of progress are the results of the commitments that the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are making to Central America’s success.  In this context, and well aware of the continued challenges, the leaders expressed their commitments on the following points:

1. The presidents of the Northern Triangle of Central America and the Vice President of the United States of America expressed a shared commitment to promote the strategic areas of the Alliance for Prosperity, such as: energizing the productive sectors of the economy; creating economic opportunities; developing human capital, citizen security, and social inclusion; improving public safety and enhancing access to the legal system; and strengthening institutions to increase trust in the state.

To that end, we, the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, recognizing the importance of promoting the productive sector of the economy in our countries, will:

1.1 Advance economic integration based on the legal frameworks of the Central American integration process, CAFTA-DR, and other existing trade agreements.

1.2 Welcome the signing by Honduras and Guatemala of the General Framework for the Establishment of the Customs Union, which includes, inter alia, the elimination of border crossings between both countries and the establishment of a unified customs area.  The details of this agreement will be defined and supported through negotiations to occur before December 2015.

1.3 Take steps to promote an integrated, efficient energy market among the countries of the Regional Electricity Market (MER), and the markets of neighboring countries.  Review existing regulations and gradually standardize them so that commercial transactions between countries may be conducted in an equitable, competitive, transparent manner, to ensure legal certainty and allow for the promotion and development of markets with reduced costs.  This will be addressed in subsequent forums in 2015, to be completed before the end of 2016.

1.4 During 2015, continue to promote the conditions for increased investment in the diversification of the energy grid, specifically to support measures resulting in the operation of the natural gas pipeline between Mexico and Central America, for which an agreement between the member countries of the Alliance will be required.  By March 13, Guatemala and Honduras will sign an additional protocol to the Mexico-Guatemala agreement, which will permit this interconnection work to go forward.

1.5 Promote a public-private dialogue regarding the implementation and monitoring of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle governments by mid-2015, through existing public-private partnerships.

1.6 Continue efforts to establish and run one-stop business registration windows for foreign investors before the end of 2015.

2. The Government of the United States will support the governments of the Northern Triangle to promote their productive sections with a view toward greater inclusion, by:

2.1 Facilitating trade with the support of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authorities, who can share proven risk management strategies and provide other types of training to make the transfer of goods across borders more secure and efficient.

2.2 Helping to implement actions to improve trade between the countries of the Northern Triangle, within the Central American Integration System.

2.3 Providing support for the integration of energy markets in Central America, Panama and Mexico, including by supporting the review of existing regulation to promote long-term contracts.

2.4 Providing technical assistance to develop laws that will incentivize the adoption of technologies and best practices for energy-efficiency.

2.5 Supporting rural development of the countries of the Northern Triangle.

2.6 Providing potential investors and project developers the financial and risk mitigation tools to make investments in the Northern Triangle more attractive, with the support of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

3. We, the countries of the Northern Triangle, will strengthen our strategies for social and economic development to achieve the following:

3.1 In line with national plans, identify the geographic areas of greatest need to focus development and investment by April 2015.

3.2 Establish a plan to strengthen and streamline investment in education, especially at the pre-school, secondary, and vocational levels by 2016.

3.3 Create the conditions to facilitate access to credit for micro, small, and medium enterprises through financial education programs, improvements to legal frameworks, and development of specific financial products beginning in 2015.

3.4 Expand existing programs to improve health services, nutrition, and child development.

3.5 Strengthen equal opportunities policies, especially for the economic empowerment of women, ethnic groups, and at-risk youth by 2016.  During the same year, each country will double the number of women and youth served and provided training by specialized community centers.

4. The United States government will support the Northern Triangle governments in meeting commitments for the development of economic and social opportunities for its citizens, giving special attention to the following:

4.1 Advancing economic prosperity with programs and training that accelerate business development in urban and rural areas.

4.2 Helping to create a better climate for micro, small, and medium businesses to create conditions to expand their access to credit and strengthen proven results throughout specialized business centers in the hemisphere, thus strengthening value chains.

4.3 Continuing efforts to boost family farming and food security through various programs, such as “Feed the Future.”

4.4 Implementing plans to improve access to education and educational quality for underserved populations, including indigenous and afro-descendant children in rural schools, as well as the expansion of educational and vocational training opportunities for at-risk youth.

4.5 Supporting populations along Central American border areas in order to bolster a surge in new economic activity in these communities.

4.6 Backing the efforts of the Northern Triangle countries to redouble their assistance to women and youth in specialized community centers.

5. We recognize the need to improve public security and access to justice; therefore, the leaders of the Northern Triangle agree to:

5.1 Expand security policies and programs, especially those that dismantle gangs and prevent gang violence, as well as by combating common crime, extortion, money laundering, human trafficking, illegal trafficking, and drug trafficking.   We will strengthen justice institutions, among others, using international best practices, depending on the specific context of the priority areas.

5.2 Promote approaches to strengthening the justice sector, emphasizing efficiency, transparency, and accountability, as well as decreasing case backlogs and promoting alternative dispute and domestic violence resolution techniques.

5.3 Improve prison systems, including infrastructure based on prisoner risk profiles, the capacity of prison staffs, and rehabilitation programs, including those focused on juvenile offenders and their prison conditions.

5.4 Deepen police reforms, including reforms focused on money laundering and human trafficking throughout 2015.  During the first half of 2015, Honduras will announce a proposal for the comprehensive reform of its educational system and its police training initiative, as well as its plan to train and contract 6,000 new police officers over the next three years.  Guatemala announced that it is in the process of reforming its immigration law in order to criminalize the trafficking of Guatemalans, especially children and adolescents.

5.5 Approve and strengthen laws against money laundering.  El Salvador has established an Anti-Extortion Task Force, and will begin in mid-2015 a legal reform to criminalize bulk cash smuggling.

5.6 Guatemala will promote reforms in its civil and commercial procedure codes to establish and streamline oral hearings and make more efficient its judicial proceedings during 2015. In addition it will create new specialized criminal investigative anti-money laundering units, asset forfeiture units, and cyber-crime units, in the first half of 2015.

6. The Government of the United States, along with the governments of the Northern Triangle, will back efforts to improve public safety and access to justice by supporting:

6.1 Police reforms, to including police training in the areas of internal affairs, vetting, and oversight and transparency mechanisms, as well as through the provision of equipment and information systems.

6.2  The work of governments to strengthen local mechanisms for the prevention of crime and violence.

6.3 The work of religious and civil organizations within the framework of government strategies to provide at-risk youth with life skills, job training, and recreational activities, and supporting civic groups to recover public spaces controlled by gangs and improve basic infrastructure.

6.4 The expansion and strengthening of centers against domestic violence and violence against women.

6.5 The strengthening of juvenile justice and alternatives to incarceration and detention.

6.6 The efforts of States to improve criminal investigations, especially through improved forensic laboratories.

6.7. The work of the security agencies to effectively dismantle transnational organized crime networks that carry drugs and money in coastal waters and across land borders.

7.  With the goal of promoting strengthened institutions, Northern Triangle countries will continue to promote transparency and engender confidence in our citizens.  In this regard we will:

7.1. Promote independent monitoring mechanisms, using best practices to ensure governmental transparency throughout 2015.

7.2. Increase and strengthen tax revenues through greater efficiency and effectiveness in tax collection, strengthening tax authorities, simplifying tax codes, and professionalizing tax collection authorities.

7.3. Join forces to improve the professionalization of the civil service, starting in 2015.

8  The Government of the United States will support governments of the Northern Triangle in strengthening its institutions, by:

8.1. Working with Central American governments to provide expert advisors, such as those from the Department of the Treasury, and including assistance to governments to leverage additional resources through more efficient tax administration and public-private partnerships.

Finally, with regards to implementing this plan, we agreed to take into account existing best practices in the region, such as the model implemented by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, to maximize the impact of our initiatives and actions that seek to be effective and transparent, and which recognize the leading role of the state and its public institutions.

Agreed to in Guatemala City on March 3, 2015.

End Text

Child Protection Advisor Job posted by: Save the Children International

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Child Protection Advisor
Job posted by: Save the Children International
Posted on: July 10, 2014
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Job description
Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children. We work in 120 countries. We save children’s lives; we fight for their rights; we help them fulfil their potential. We work together, with our partners, to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.

We have over two million supporters worldwide and raised 1.6 billion dollars last year to reach more children than ever before, through programmes in health, nutrition, education, protection and child rights, also in times of humanitarian crises.

Following a major transition, our international programmes are now delivered through a merged operation with c14, 000 staff, managed through seven regional hubs and reporting to a relatively small, central office. We’re changing to become more efficient, more aligned, a better partner, a stronger advocate, a magnet for world-class people and relevant for the 21st century.

The role
The Child Protection Advisor will be expected to lead on sectoral assessments, programme design and master budgeting, coordination, fundraising, recruitment, evaluations, accountability and learning. The Child Protection Advisor will also be expected to play a leadership role within the country program through 360o support to colleagues and by working to ensure that broader sector coordination mechanisms are functioning effectively. The post holder will be expected to mentor and/or capacity-build both international and national staff, play a role in coordination mechanisms within Yemen and globally and will represent the Yemen Program with donors, government counterparts and other key stakeholders.

The role is an accompanied position for a period of 12 months.

Qualifications and experience


Substantial experience of working internationally in Child Protection programmes in both humanitarian and development context
Education to Masters level in relevant subject, or equivalent field experience
Proven ability to train staff in participation and accountability approaches
Experience working with national governments to build protection systems
Demonstrated ability to set up monitoring & evaluation systems in large complex programmes.
Experience in setting up learning and development processes for a large Child Protection team
Proven ability to mentor, coach and train on Child Protection related topics.
Experience of senior level representation, developing and negotiating successful partnerships with institutional donors
Ability to write clear and well-argued assessment and project reports
Excellent communication skills
Proven ability to influence change at an operational and strategic level.
Politically and culturally sensitive with qualities of patience, tact and diplomacy
A high level of written and spoken English
The capacity and willingness to be extremely flexible and accommodating in difficult and sometimes insecure working circumstances.
Commitment to the aims and principles of Save the Children. In particular, a good understanding of the SC mandate and child focus and an ability to ensure this continues to underpin our support.

Language skills in Arabic
Experience or knowledge of working and living in relevant regions/contexts
Specific experience of designing and managing SIDA, UNHCR, UNICEF and other major donor projects
Specific experience of designing and managing consortia projects.
We need to keep children safe so our selection process reflects our commitment to the protection of children from abuse.

To see a full a job description, please visit our website at

Please apply in English using your CV and covering letter as a single document, including your salary expectations for this

How to apply
Please apply with a covering letter and up-to-date CV to::