A refugee is someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country or return there because there is a fear of persecution." (from UNHCR)
Since 1975 The United States has held a tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and war. In 1980 Congress passed the Refugee Act which incorporated the United Nations definition of 'refugee' and standardized the resettlement services for all refugees admitted into the U.S. Over 40 years later, the U.S. government continues to maintain a long-established humanitarian program that grants sanctuary in this country to a limited number of refugees who are unable to safely return home or remain in a host country. The decision of 'who' and 'how many' is determined by the President of the United States in consultation with Congress.
World Relief has been resettling refugees since 1979. Refugees from across the globe arrive at our offices with few belongings, a difficult past, and high hopes for the future. As they walk off the plane at Jacksonville International Airport they begin a very difficult journey of cross-cultural adaptation.
Refugees can be of any educational background. Some are highly educated doctors, lawyers and professionals, while others are unable to read or write in their own language. Some refugees come from wealthy backgrounds, while others have lived much of their lives in poverty. The one factor all have in common is that they have all been persecuted.