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source of information about the global migration

patterns of those who have fled persecution, war

and fear of death since 1975, the Refugee Project puts

mass migrations into their political and social con-


The project is based on the United Nations defi-

nition of a refugee: “someone who owing to a well-

founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race,

religion, nationality, membership of a particular social

group or political opinion, is outside the country of

his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear,

is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that


An interactive map for each of the past 40 years

shows the number of refugees from almost every

country in the

world. The maps

show both the

countries refugees

were leaving and

the countries to

which they fled.

Each year several

critical locations

are discussed in greater detail, with short articles explain-

ing the causes of the migration. The result is an arresting

visual history of social and political crises, such as war,

persecution, political instability and famine.

Users also have access to a collection of informative

external articles on countries that have experienced major

refugee crises, such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bosnia, Cam-

bodia, the Central African Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia,

Burma and Russia.

—Shannon Mizzi, Editorial Intern

Following the Islamic State group’s

brazen release of the recorded behead-

ings of freelance journalists James Foley

and Steven Sotloff last summer, Pres.

Obama commissioned a comprehen-

sive review of U.S. hostage policy. The

report’s findings concluded that a “no

concessions” policy does not mean “no


Thus, the administration determined

not only that it will allow families and

third parties to negotiate with and pay

ransoms to terrorist groups, but it will

also facilitate those discussions when


The policy shift includes creation of

a single interagency body responsible


Migrants crowd a platform at the Vienna railroad station

on Sept.5.

for managing the recovery of Ameri-

can hostages; a new special envoy for

hostage affairs at the State Department

(Jim O’Brien was appointed on Aug. 28);

and a family engagement coordinator to

improve communication with victims’


Families of murdered hostages and

those still being held generally wel-

comed the announcement, but others

expressed concern that the change will

endanger more Americans.

Pres. Obama made clear that no U.S.

taxpayer dollars will go toward paying

ransoms, the proceeds of which would

inevitably bankroll terrorist operations.


New York Times

report issued in July

2014 found that al-Qaida and its affili-

ates had brought in roughly $125 million

in kidnapping revenue since 2008, most

of which was paid by European govern-


The Treasury Department has said

that kidnapping ransoms have become

the most significant source of terrorist

financing. In 2003, kidnappers would

have received an average of $200,000

per hostage; today’s rate is closer to $10


Since 9/11, more than 80 Americans

have been taken hostage by terrorist

organizations. According to the White

House, there are currently more than

30 U.S. hostages in places ranging from