Orphans to Ambassadors is one of the only organizations dedicated to helping post refugee affected areas worldwide.  When refugee camps close, the majority of non-governmental organizations and relief agencies pull out and migrate to other areas experiencing refugee flows.

Many of these organizations make a conscious effort to minimize the negative impact of pulling out of these areas, but the effect can still be devastating to local economies, infrastructure, and educational services.  Orphans to Ambassadors is dedicated to operating in communities that are experiencing this phenomenon, and assisting communities with inflated orphan populations.  The following explains this phenomena through three separate but interconnected phases.

Phase 1: Mass refugee migrations are very complex and have many different effects on the countries they leave and the countries where they seek refuge.  In Africa, when mass refugee populations migrate to host countries, it’s often without notice, giving host countries little time to prepare for enormous population influxes.  Western Tanzania has experienced severe refugee migrations over the last 30 years from Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

When refugees arrive in small isolated border communities within the host countries, there is an immediate drain on already limited resources.  Deforestation occurs at an astounding rate as refugees and locals consume fuel sources to cook with.  As food and water supplies become exhausted, local communities are left with very little resources while refugees camps are provided for by international relief agencies.

Phase 2: Once refugees are in camps, the impact on host communities changes completely.  International Relief Agencies develop infrastructures like schools, hospitals, roads, and energy resources.  The Relief Agencies also provide hundreds of jobs to local community members paying 200-300% higher salaries than the local average.  Relief Agencies implement environmental rehabilitation programs and provide the basic commodities that were quickly depleted during the initial refugee arrival.

Organizations like the American Red Cross and International Rescue Committee provide healthcare which trickles out into the local community benefiting them as well the refugee camps.  Roads and transportation networks are enhanced to help relief agencies transfer supplies into more remote border regions where refugee populations are settled.  Educational opportunities increase with the presence of relief agencies and expatriates.

Phase 3: When peace is finally achieved in the country of conflict, refugees are encouraged to return home, sometimes against their will.  When the refugee populations start to decline, relief agencies begin to pull out and remove all the transportable resources.  Employees are laid-off and staff are pulled out of the local areas.  With the increase in unemployment, and the loss of the major expatriate consumer base, refugee affected communities experience sharp economic declines.

The programs offered to local communities via Relief Agencies are revoked and feeding programs and other vulnerable population programs become unavailable.  Unfortunately, street children bear a major burden with the loss of relief agencies and begging for food and work becomes virtually impossible.  Petty theft and orphan related crime goes up, while the primary victim is the local community.  Without the support of relief agency programs, the number of children living on the street increases, as children move to larger cities in search of food and work.