From the State Department's World Refugee Report (September 1987): It has been said that refugees are "human rights violations made visible." They live in dislocated, deprived, marginal, ambiguous circumstances with bleak futures. Most remain victims of violence -- in the countries they have fled and the wars they sometimes bring with them from hostile local populations, and from their own incipient factionalism. They usually go to countries which are extremely impoverished themselves -- the average per capital GNP for the primary nations of first asylum is $822.

An ambitious international system of multilateral and bilateral programs, utilizing an extensive, far-flung array of collaborators, administers crucial assistance to refugees. These services include life-sustaining support, food, water, shelter, medical supplies and health aid, education, protection and impact assistance, representation and negotiation to improve immediate and future treatment of refugees, and resettlement. The partners in the effort include multilateral agencies led by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Intergovernmental Committee for Migration; a multitude of nonprofit, nongovernmental, voluntary agencies with enormous commitment and skill; and nation states who receive refugees in first asylum, donate money, resettle refugees, and even, in some instances, facilitate their return. This international enterprise has saved and continues to save millions of lives and supports the continued provision of first asylum. It is heroic, absolutely essential, and inadequate.