I had to defend my right to exist

Taylor Swift – exile (feat. Bon Iver) (Official Lyric Video)

June 20 is World Refugee Day celebrated in the world

According to the UN Refugee Agency, in 2019 there were almost 80 million people worldwide who were forced to flee their homes, cities and countries due to conflicts. About 26 million of them are refugees, half of whom – persons under the age of 18. Under the new rules set by the Trump administration, the United States plans to accept a maximum of 18,000 refugees in fiscal 2020, up from 30,000 in the same period the previous year. This will be the lowest number of refugees resettled in the United States in one year since 1980, when Congress created the national refugee resettlement program..

Christina Guzikova moved to the United States with her grandmother almost twenty years ago as part of one of the programs to help refugees from the countries of the former Soviet Union.

«No matter how skeptical many people were about this problem, we felt the pressure on ourselves on the basis of ethnicity. My grandmother was not given an award because her last name – Brener, not Svetlyakova or some Russian surname. My dad changed his surname, because they understood that it would be difficult for him to enter somewhere or get a job with a Jewish surname. I was lucky because I already had a Russian surname, but nevertheless I was teased in class. I was persecuted not because I was not quiet and calm, but because they said: "it’s because you – Jewess". I had to defend my right to exist, to humanity, because I was teased by this», – she said.

The United States has a long history of helping refugees. In 1980, under the Jimmy Carter administration, the Refugee Act was passed.

«This law has been a pivotal moment for American leadership in this area. This law created a formal system for the resettlement of refugees to the United States. We believe it is important to use the full range of our assistance not only for refugees in the United States, but also for other refugees in the world.», – declared to the Russian service «Voices of America» State Department spokesman Vanessa Ecker.

According to her, the United States is implementing a number of programs under which people from different countries can receive asylum. For example, due to political or religious harassment.

«We had political refugees not only from the Soviet Union, but from Cuba, China, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia. There is the Lottenberg program, in which we support religious minorities that are experiencing aggressiveness or other problems on the ground. Since 1989, representatives of religious communities can come to the United States and the countries of the former USSR», – noted by Vanessa Ecker.

Kelly Ann Whelan serves on the US Committee for refugees and immigrants, which helps the Department of State host refugees in the United States. She notes that refugees go through a long process before they can find themselves in the United States, which can take more than a dozen years..

«When refugees finally arrive in the United States, we try to place them in places where they will have outside support. For example, some refugees from Somalia are housed in Minnesota because there is already a community there. Their life upon arrival is very difficult. Yes, they get some support from organizations like mine: learn English, find a job, educate children, and so on.», – she said.

I had to defend my right to exist

Christina Guzikova notes that the United States has a very developed system of support for refugees from non-governmental organizations..

«I felt that they were taking care of me, they would find out what I needed. Our apartment was fully equipped. They brought everything: from a bed to tea spoons. I probably never experienced such care and attention.», – recalls Christina.

According to Kelly Ann Whelan, many refugees are very hardworking and contribute to the development of the communities in which they live. She adds that people come from all over the world in search of a safe place to live..

«It is very important to remember that if you were in the situation in which they found themselves – you would also leave your country. They do not seek to get into your country and take something away. Secondly, refugees give a lot to the United States, and not only in terms of culture and microeconomics. It is very important for the United States to accept refugees. If not for them – then some areas of our economy would be experiencing difficulties», – emphasized by Kelly Ann Whelan

She adds: When you meet a refugee on the street, remember that he or she had to go through great trials to be safe.. «They are people just like you. Everything they want – a peaceful home in a new place», – reminds Kelly Ann.

I had to defend my right to exist