SALT LAKE CITY — David Miliband admits refugee numbers can be daunting — 25 million refugees worldwide and another 40 million internally displaced. But the International Rescue Committee president and CEO breaks them down to what he calls “the human scale” — numbers Utahns can better understand and relate to.
“In Salt Lake City this year, the IRC will resettle about 470 people — not 470 heads of households, but 470 people — and a good half of them will be kids,” said Miliband, underscoring the importance of them getting an education, learning English, finding friends, obtaining work and establishing homes.
Or like the number one, as in a single individual — 26-year-old Claude from the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most recent recipients of local IRC aid.
“He was fleeing on the grounds of ethnicity from Congo — he was fleeing for his life,” Miliband said. “He has landed in Salt Lake City, and he’s got a job a the Cheesecake Factory as a dishwasher, and he’s going off to work his way and make the American dream.”
Putting the refugee numbers in perspective, he added: “If you look at statistics, you get depressed; if you look at the people, you have hope.”
Miliband was in Salt Lake City earlier last week, meeting with staff, donors and community leaders at IRC’s local office as well as with LDS Church representatives.
Perhaps better known as a former British Labour Party cabinet minister, he’s the first non-American to lead the 83-year-old IRC, which first was founded by request of Albert Einstein and now has dual purposes as an international-aid organization in 40 countries as well as a refugee-resettlement agency in 28 cities across the United States. He served as the United Kingdom’s…