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Colorado Welcomes More Refugees As Numbers Swell Worldwide

United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees

With global conflicts on the rise, refugee numbers have catapulted to more than 50 million worldwide, making the number of displaced people from conflicts the highest seen since World War II. Colorado has a larger share of refugees than most states, with the majority coming from Bhutan and Myanmar.

World Refuge Day was celebrated in Denver June 20 commemorating refugees who have built their own businesses and recognizing doctors and teachers who work directly to help new arrivals settle in the Centennial State. Katie Tobin, a Senior Protection Associate with the UNHCR, said that Colorado has become a model for successful resettlement.

“All 50 States receive refugees. Colorado is no exception and in fact they do quite a bit considering the population of the state and the resources available," Tobin said. "Annually Colorado receives around 2,000 refugees.”

The Colorado Department of Health and Human Services works directly with refugees arriving in Colorado. Annual refugee arrivals have been steadily inclining from just over 700 in 2002 to 2199 in 2013.  

Colorado had the 15th largest population of incoming refugees for 2012, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The vast majority of refugees resettle in California or Texas. There are a few states that took in only a handful. Hawaii and Montana only accepted one each.

Tobin said that only one percent of all displaced people receive refugee status allowing a move to a host country. In its 2013annual report, UNHCR reported that refugee levels are the highest since World War II, with a total of 51.2 million worldwide.

That’s an increase of 6 million from 2012. The high numbers can be attributed to the civil war in Syria and ethnic conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. 

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