As of May 2022, the United Nations reported that more than 100 million people are internationally displaced. For the first webinar in our Humanitarian Relief Series, we talked with Sasha Chanoff, CEO and founder of RefugePoint. This humanitarian organization helps find lasting solutions for the world’s most at-risk refugees and supports the humanitarian community to do the same. After decades of work in this space, Chanoff helps individuals develop their personal sense of moral leadership in his book From Crisis to Calling: Finding Your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions.
Read the recap or watch the full event recording at the bottom of the article.
While refugee issues may not have garnered significant attention in the past,
Chanoff states that international displacement is “no longer a side issue” in public or nonprofit discourse. Recent crises in Ukraine, Congo, Syria, Somalia, and Afghanistan have forced millions out of their homes.
Unfortunately, climate change will likely exacerbate the issue. The World Bank predicts that climate changes will internationally displace over 200 million people by 2050 – a number that does not include people who are forced to move within their own country.
Yet despite this unprecedented need, the Refugee Council USA expects that 85% of open refugee admission slots will expire unused by the end of the 2022 fiscal year.
In the past, humanitarian efforts to aid displaced people primarily focused on immediate needs post-crisis. These efforts include establishing refugee camps with adequate housing, food, and medical support.
At the outset of a crisis, these initiatives are absolutely necessary and urgent. However, many refugees can’t return to their home countries for years, if not decades or even generations. Chanoff tells the story one Kenyan woman whose parents and herself were born in a refugee camp after her grandparents fled there.
Chanoff argues that, rather than force displaced people into shackles of dependency, aid can focus on helping people build self-reliant lives in settled countries.
Far from a burden, refugees represent an incredible economic opportunities for host countries. In fact, one US Department of Health and Human Services study found that refugees brought in $63 billion more revenue to federal, state, and local governments than they cost.
Chanoff encourages governments, nonprofits, and businesses to think about how to give refugees agency, especially in terms of employment. By asking a displaced person who they are, what they can do, and how they could potentially support themselves, they can see themselves as an empowered whole person, Chanoff shares. This perspective can help them see and build a life beyond past tragedies that they have experienced. For more about Chanoff’s work on economic mobility, read more about the global task force that RefugePoint has started with the Canadian and Australian governments and the United Nations Refugee Agency.
While the problem is daunting, multiple organizations, government agencies, nonprofits, and businesses have joined forces to help. See how you can get involved.
The nonprofit welcome.us offers multiple opportunities for individuals to help as well. Individuals can help by donating money, volunteering, or even starting a sponsor circle. With sponsor circles, groups of people can financially support and welcome refugees into their community. The training program helps ensure that sponsor circles can help displaced individuals with housing, benefits, cultural connections, and more.
Pledge 1%’s Humanitarian Relief Series hones in on current and emerging trends related to humanitarian issues and needs around the world. While some of this content will be Ukraine-specific as the war continues and needs evolve, we will also highlight other global challenges and opportunities for collaboration and engagement.
Watch Sasha Chanoff's full conversation for additional context and stories from the field.