State Department lauds success of refugee aid program Welcome Corps

Secretary of State Antony Blinken leaves after a closed-door briefing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. He announced the first anniversary of the Welcome Corps on Friday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that the Welcome Corps has helped resettle some 7,000 refugees from around the world into the United States in its first year.

In celebrating the anniversary, the State Department said 15,000 volunteers at Welcome Corps worked to help resettle refugees coming from Ukraine, Venezuela and Afghanistan, among other nations.

"These refugees are now beginning to settle into communities across the United States, with nearly 100 arriving since we first welcomed privately sponsored refugees on World Refugee Day in June," Blinken said in a White House statement.

"From the neighbors in San Diego who came together to help a refugee family from East Africa [who] settled into their new community, to former refugees in Texas who wanted to give to others the same opportunities they had after fleeing persecution in Sudan, the Welcome Corps is transforming the way refugees are resettled."

The Welcome Corps was created by the State Department with the help of Health and Human Services. It allows private citizens to help arriving refugees who come to the country through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

Blinken said U.S. colleges and universities also played a role on helping resettle refugees through the Welcome Corps on Campus program, which was established last July.

"The Welcome Corps at Work program will match skilled refugees with U.S. employers across dynamic industries such as hospitality, healthcare and technology," Blinken said.

Blinken said he is expecting more success with the Welcome Corps in the upcoming year with more Americans volunteering to assist refugees.

"The Welcome Corps is furthering the American tradition of being good neighbors, guides and friends to newcomers joining our communities, and we look forward to its ongoing success," he said.