Refugee Assistance:

U.S. Contributions for the 1980s

NSIAD-91-137: Published: Mar 21, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed U.S. contributions for the care and relief of refugees between 1980 and 1989, focusing on: (1) overall U.S. refugee-related expenditures; (2) U.S. contributions to international relief organizations for the care of refugees living overseas; and (3) the geographic distribution of U.S. refugee assistance overseas.

GAO found that: (1) from fiscal years 1980 through 1989, the United States contributed about $9.7 billion in cash, commodities, and in-kind contributions for refugee assistance, of which it spent two-thirds on the admission and resettlement of refugees in the United States; (2) U.S. funding for overseas refugee assistance comprised a smaller share of total refugee aid, but the annual level of this assistance nearly doubled to $418 million by the end of the decade; (3) the United States donated the largest amount of all contributors to all but one of the four major international refugee relief organizations, annually contributing an average of over 20 percent of their total budgets during the decade; (4) the United States distributed 41 percent of its total spent on refugee assistance overseas to the Near East, which was more than it distributed to any other region during the decade; and (5) refugees in East Asia and Africa received the greatest shares of U.S. food aid.

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