World Refugee Day: Local nonprofit reports it’s helping fewer refugees as resettling in the U.S. declines

Virginia

Just Neighbors, an Annandale-based nonprofit, reports there are roughly 25 million refugees worldwide; a population that has "skyrocketed."

ANNANDALE, Va. (WDVM) — Just Neighbors, an Annandale-based nonprofit, reports there are roughly 25 million refugees worldwide; a population that has “skyrocketed.” According to its director of legal services, Dominique Poirier, while the United States used to be the biggest re-settler for refugees in the world, Just Neighbors has been helping fewer refugees in recent years.

The nonprofit serves immigrants and refugees in Northern Virginia and other parts of the state. They assist their clients to get green cards to make their statuses in the U.S. more permanent. Poirer says before the Trump Administration, the U.S. was resettling 80,000 refugees per fiscal year. In 2017, that number dropped to 20,000 refugees.

“This year we’re probably on track to resettle about that same amount,” said Poirier. “So even though there’s more refugees in the world the United States is resettling less.” Poirier said other nonprofits that serve refugees and have accommodated money and staff for 80,000 resettlements a year have suffered layoffs.

About 60 to 70 percent of Just Neighbors’ clients are Latinx. Poirier reports about 30 percent of Fairfax County is foreign-born.

Most of Just Neighbors’ aid is “humanitarian-based”; Poirier says many of the refugees they serve are leaving natural strife, domestic abuse, civil strife, or violent crimes in their home countries.

“Refugees are living in camps with terrible conditions,” said Poirier. She also reports Just Neighbors’ clients may have been born in their camps; a refugee remains in their camp for well over 10 years, on average. “We see young adults who have spent their entire childhood in a camp. They’re fleeing countries they’ve never lived in.”

Just Neighbors caps its services at $200 for families large and small.

Refugees are those who live in fear of persecution in their home countries. It is defined by five categories of persecution: race, religion, political opinion, nationality, and membership in a particular group.

If in need of Just Neighbors’ services, call 703-979-1240. If interested in volunteering, click here.

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