In March 2013, Faez al Sharaa lived in Daraa, Syria, the city where protests against President Bashar Assad quickly turned deadly two years earlier. After the anti-government uprising began, the country descended into civil war, with more than 4.8 million Syrian refugees and about 470,000 Syrians killed as of 2016 [sources: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Syrian Center for Policy Research]. Civilians faced the threat of displacement and death at the hands of Assad's forces, which has used ballistic missiles, barrel bombs and massacres to attempt to defeat the opposition.
One day, after he was held at gunpoint and called a terrorist by Syrian soldiers, al Sharaa decided to leave Syria. He and his wife, Shaza, fled the war-torn country for Jordan. After staying at a refugee camp riddled with violence, working a night job to evade detection and enduring rounds of security screening by the United Nations, he headed to Texas with his wife and infant daughter, who was born in Jordan.
The al Sharaas' story ends positively. But not all turn out that way for the estimated 65.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide [source: UNHCR]. 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.