Africa Regional Deployment Unit (ARDU) & Support for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Many of the refugees who arrive in the U.S. each year began their resettlement journey at an interview with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. UNHCR is tasked with referring a select few each year to the United States Refugee Admissions Program from camps and urban locations across sub-Saharan Africa. Refugees are chosen based on a range of criteria that often considers how long a refugee has been residing in a camp or if an individual has medical or security concerns that make life as a refugee particularly difficult, even dangerous.
In an effort to increase referrals to the USRAP, the CWS-operated Resettlement Support Center Africa developed the Africa Regional Deployment Unit in 2012. ARDU works with UNHCR and the U.S. Department of State to identify UNHCR offices around the continent that could benefit from additional support in writing referrals, registering refugees and profiling communities for possible inclusion in refugee resettlement.
Also within ARDU are Best Interest Determination Specialists, who are responsible for working with minors who are referred for U.S. resettlement. They help complete the necessary assessments for children who will either enter foster care in the U.S. or are being referred for U.S. resettlement without their biological parents.
Today, ARDU continues to provide technical expertise and fast-acting deployments to UNHCR. The unit began in 2012 with only seven staff, comprised of one program manager, five resettlement officers and one BID Specialist. Recognizing the early success of the Africa Regional Deployment Unit, the U.S. Department of State decided to double the current size of the unit in FY 2014 quarter two. The current ARDU team now has a total of two BID Specialists, nine resettlement officers and the program manager. Because of the increase in funding, in FY 2014 the unit has been able to provide more deployments to UNHCR. There are plans to increase the staffing levels of ARDU again to assist RSC Africa and UNHCR in meeting its submission targets to USRAP. ARDU staff have been deployed to UNHCR offices in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Burundi, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, South Africa, Uganda, Djibouti, Tanzania, Cameroon, Chad and Liberia to conduct work in a variety of resettlement functions.