Today is World Refugee Day. Unfortunately, around the globe we are witnessing the highest levels of population movement on record, with nearly 70 million people forced from their homes.
The American people have always responded generously to support those in need. Last year alone, the United States Government provided more than $8 billion to support vulnerable populations around the world. We work with host governments and organizations like the UN Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration, UNICEF, the International Committee for the Red Cross, and dozens of NGOs, erecting emergency shelters, providing food and safe drinking water, health care, education, and protection. And when conditions are right – our funds also allow us to help rebuild lives.
Here in this region, the Regional Housing Program is doing just that. When I stood at this very spot just over a year and a half ago for the ceremony that began construction of these beautiful apartments, only slightly more than one hundred families in Serbia had received homes through the Regional Housing Program. Today, nearly 3,500 families have a place they can call home. This is thanks to the commitment of the Government of Serbia, generous donors like the European Union and others, and international organizations such as the UN Refugee Agency and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Just as important, it would not have been possible without the teams of dedicated contractors working across the country to bring these families into a home.
To those of you moving in today, my best wishes to you and your families as you embark on a new era in your life. All the best to you. Welcome home.