Today, fifteen million refugees languish in semi-permanent camps or urban slums, often for decades and sometimes for generations (seventeen years on average). Returning home and integrating into the country of first asylum have been the dominant solutions to the plight of refugees. Sasha Chanoff is trying to find lasting solutions for these vulnerable refugees. His organization works to transform and improve refugee resettlement through a variety of interlinking strategies centered on creating the infrastructure and know-how in ways that improve equity for the most vulnerable refugees. Refugee resettlement, the process of permanently and legally relocating refugees to countries where they can rebuild their lives in safety, is the only solution available for many people around the world who can neither return home nor stay safely where they are. However, in the past decade approximately 250,000 resettlement slots made available by the U.S. government have gone unfilled due to systemic inefficiencies. Historically refugee resettlement has been a low priority in the grand scheme of refugee assistance and protection.
Chanoff is pioneering a new role for effective and professional citizen organizations in the refugee resettlement process. Beginning with the organization he founded in 2005, RefugePoint, he is raising awareness for the plight of the growing population of urban refugees, while also developing an expertise in identifying newly threatened refugee groups that reside both in and outside the refugee camp system.