The American Refugee Committee was founded in 1979 to combat and address the needs of the millions of refugees around the world. Today, the efforts of ARC reach 2.5 million people of the 39 million displaced in the world. In particular, the ARC aids those in the countries of Thailand, Pakistan, Uganda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda.
According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who has 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.”
In today’s modern world, various types of conflicts and natural disasters have resulted in 10 million refugees and 29 million internally displaced persons (IDP). The difference between the two is that a refugee has crossed an international border, while an IDP still remains in their home country. Regardless of their title, both groups are in deep need of protection, food, water and shelter – and this is often achieved through international law.
A notable aspect of the ARC is their Rapid Response Teams (RRT), which is a group ready to be dispatched on short notice to areas that have been recently struck with a type of crisis that may result in human displacement. The RRT can leave as fast as within 48 hours of receiving contact. Often times, such crises are not necessarily predictable and are deemed emergencies and urgent situations that need immediate attention. The RRTs scope the initial conditions and report the most pressing needs, partner with other agencies for effective humanitarian aid and ultimately provide true relief to those affected by the crisis.
Having RRTs has been advantageous to the ARC’s goals and commitments. For instance, in 2008 when a calamitous cyclone tore through Myanmar – which exceeded over 22,000 deaths and at least 41,000 missing – ARC sent off a RRT to the area. The ARC has had a team in Thailand (which borders Myanmar) for almost two decades and are consequently more familiar with the region’s language, culture and geography. Unfortunately, the Myanmar military government was slow to respond in granting visas to workers. However, the investments that ARC has sown into the regions shows much potential to bear fruit in the future when emergencies such as this happens.
The American Refugee Committee prides itself on possessing great financial responsibility. According to Charity Navigator, the ARC has received a score of 63.67 out of 70 points. The score is taken as an average of its financial score and its accountability & transparency score, of which the ARC received 60.06 and 70 out of 70, respectively. Nearly 89.4 percent of the ARC’s expenses go toward its programs – reflecting its efficiency and transparency.
– Christina Cho