When the Taliban rose to power in Afghanistan in 1996, Frishta Mirbacha was 21 years old. She and her five sisters, who grew up in an educated, progressive Muslim family in Kabul, were forced to wear burqas (full-body cloaks that cover everything except for the wearer's eyes) and were prohibited from working or going to school. They could no longer leave the house without a male chaperon.
After several close relatives were killed, Frishta and her family fled across the border into Pakistan. There, Afghan refugees squatted in tenements with no health care, education or clean drinking water. Frishta wanted to study business in Islamabad, but as a refugee, she wasn't allowed to do so [source: U.S. Committee for Refugee and Immigrants].
Frishta's heartbreaking story is common among the estimated 41.9 million refugees around the world [source: Refugees International]. The circumstances vary, yet the experiences are the same: People are forced to leave their homes and flee to another country to avoid persecution because of race, religion, nationality, social standing or politics.
To help victims of war and civil conflict from across the globe -- from Bangladesh to Burundi and Somalia to Syria-- hundreds of refugee charity organizations have sprung up to provide food, shelter and household necessities as well as to advocate for human rights, establish medical clinics and get children back in school [source: A.R.T.].
The organizations range from Physicians for Human Rights, a Cambridge, Mass.-based group of 300 doctors who provide free medical and psychological evaluations of asylum seekers, to the International Rescue Committee, a New York-based non-profit that provides relief, protection and resettlement services for victims of oppression and violent conflict.
Other organizations include the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, which lobbies the U.S. government for better protection of refugees seeking asylum, and Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services, which specializes in helping children who come to the U.S. without family.
Read on to learn what the Office of Refugee Resettlement does.