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Public Statements

In Support of World, Refugee Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in support of World Refugee Day. Across the globe approximately 43.7 million people have been displaced after being forced to flee their homes due to the threat of persecution, violence and conflict. The majority of these people are forced to live in extreme poverty and endure unspeakable conditions.

This is a day where we can honor the courage and strength of those that have lost everything, through no fault of their own. Many have had to make the terrifying decision of risking their lives, and their families lives by staying in a conflict stricken area, or leaving their home, families and possessions behind in an attempt to find safer conditions.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees provides lifesaving assistance and protection to 33.7 million of those displaced, but even this is not enough. Women and children in camps experience high levels of rape and assault, and there is rarely enough food to go around. Health conditions in these camps are often extremely poor and disease runs rampant.

Mr. Speaker, the United States has taken in countless numbers of refugees in our history. They have become an essential part of the fabric of our society, but we can still do more. This is why I am a co-sponsor of H.R 690, a resolution that recognizes America's positive impact on the international refugee community, but calls for important changes to be made to H.R. 2185, the Refugee Protection Act of 2011.

These changes would eliminate the 1-year filing deadline for asylum applications that puts at risk thousands of people each year, create a path to legal citizenship and ensure that victims of persecution are not inadvertently forced back to the countries they fled to begin with.

Mr. Speaker, this is a day to remember that we are the lucky ones. We live in the greatest country in the world where freedom of belief, speech, and press amongst others are God given rights, not privileges. As a member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus I fully support the efforts of the UNHCR and H.R. 690 to try and make that a reality for all, regardless of nationality.

Today I rise to recognize all those living in poverty stricken refugee camps because it is safer than going home, and those all those who dream of returning to the land of their fathers, but are unable to do so. I ask my colleagues to support H.R. 690, and I support the honorable efforts of World Refugee Day.

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