This morning, ICMC’s President Peter Sutherland took a few hours off his engagements as United Nations Special Representative for International Migration to visit the Resettlement Support Center for Turkey and Middle East (RSC Tu ME), which ICMC operates in Istanbul. Since the 1960’s, the RSC accompanies the refugees referred by the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the steps preceding resettlement.
Welcomed by over 85 ICMC’s staff members, Peter Sutherland visited the RSC’s departments, talking with the caseworkers about their expertise in the interview process. He then stepped into a Farsi-language cultural orientation class, taking time to discuss with the participants familiarizing with American customs, traditions and society. “I was born in a refugee camp”, one of the participants explained. “I am stateless – which means that there is no State to protect my rights. I am excited to finally find a place of my own in the United States and build a future with my wife”.
Linda Samardzic, Director of the Resettlement Support Center in Istanbul explained that “last year, ICMC’s Resettlement Support Center helped almost 7,400 refugees to start a new life in the United States. Likely, around 9,000 will be given the same opportunity by the end of 2015”.
Concluding the visit, Peter Sutherland lingered in a conversation with the ICMC staff, during which he emphasized the importance of this moment in the migration debate and of the need of protection for all. “At this moment of history”, he remarked, “there is a political tendency in Europe which is racist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant – and it’s growing. A countervailing force should be coming from the NGO world”.
“Seeing the work you do – fair, well-organized, with no strings attached – really gives me heart”, he commented before heading back to the Global Forum on Migration and Development, currently taking place in Istanbul.
Since the 1960’s, ICMC has been running the Resettlement Support Center for Turkey and Middle East (RSC Tu ME) at its offices in Istanbul and Beirut. Funded by the US State Department, the RSC Tu ME arranges interviews, medical examinations and cultural orientation classes for refugees referred by UNHCR for resettlement to the USA.
For almost 20 years, ICMC has been managing the ICMC-UNHCR Resettlement Deployment Scheme, a roster of skilled experts who are deployed to UNHCR’s field offices throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. In 2014, these experts referred around 74,000 refugees for resettlement, approximately 70% of the total number of refugees submitted by UNHCR for resettlement in 2014.
For over three years, ICMC has led the SHARE network, which includes regional and local authorities and civil society partners involved in refugee resettlement throughout Europe. The network promotes welcoming communities, reception and integration programs for refugees.