Welcome to RHIN®
Many hospitals, clinics, community health centers, and voluntary organizations
operating in the United States provide a broad range of health services to
refugees and others with limited English proficiency. Discussing health
conditions and available services can be challenging without timely access to
reliable, culturally and linguistically appropriate information.
RHIN is a national collaborative partnership that has created a database of
quality multilingual, public health resources for those providing care to
resettled refugees and asylees. Resources include:
Health education materials in various languages and formats (brochures, fact
Provider tools (including information on refugee populations and cultures)
Links to related Web sites
RHIN also provides links to existing sites specializing in refugee health,
provides access to medical information from the National Library of Medicine,
and offers a variety of posted documents from health care providers throughout
The RHIN national partnership enables resettled refugees, asylees, their health
care providers, and public health administrators to easily access information
relevant to health conditions and health services.
RHIN® Principal Objectives:
Develop a database of multicultural/multilingual health information;
Identify and make accessible culturally and linguistically appropriate health
and medical information in order to improve health services for refugees and
Improve access to information concerning refugees' and asylees' health by state
and local public health departments and other health professionals and refugee
Enable and encourage a “culture of information sharing and communication”
among health care providers who specialize in refugee health
RHIN is guided by refugee health professionals and
health information specialists. The RHIN Steering Committee is comprised of:
Jennifer Cochran, M.P.H
Director, Refugee and Immigrant Health Program
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Jacquelyn Coughlan, M.S., MLS
Peter J. Cayan Library
SUNY Institute of Technology
Head, Office of Outreach and Special Populations
Division of Specialized Information Services
National Library of Medicine
Director, Refugee Health Screening Program
Texas Department of Health
Florida Bureau of TB & Refugee Health
John Scott, RHIN Director
Center for Public Service Communications
About Refugees and Asylees
A refugee is a person 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 country..."
The 1951 Convention relating to
the Status of Refugees
Who is a refugee?
Convention was approved by the United Nations on July 28, 1951. It is
the key legal document in defining who is a refugee, and the kind of legal
protection, other assistance, and social rights he or she should receive from
states that are parties to the document. Equally, it defines a refugee's
obligations to host governments and certain categories of persons, such as war
criminals, who do not qualify for refugee status.
Who is an Asylee?
Also known as a person seeking "political asylum." This status is granted by
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to an alien residing in the
United States as a result of a well-founded fear of persecution in the
individual’s country because of race, religion, ethnic group, or social group.
This status is similar to refugee status. The difference is that refugees are
granted their status abroad while individuals seeking asylum apply after they
enter the United States.
What are some of the reasons that force people to leave their countries?
Refugees may flee their country of origin due to persecution based on their
religion, social status, ethnicity, gender, economic status, or political
What is the difference between a refugee and an immigrant?
Generally speaking, an immigrant is considered to be a person who chooses to
leave his or her country and is usually seeking employment and education
opportunities that are either not present or are inadequate within their own
country. Refugees flee their country because of the threat of persecution and
cannot return safely to their homes in the prevailing circumstances.
What kinds of benefits and services are refugees eligible for?
Refugees are eligible for a variety of Federal assistance programs that entitle
and social service programs.
How many refugees enter the Unites States each year?
In 2005, 52,868 refugees were admitted into the United States (Source:
U.S. Department of State ). For the 2007 fiscal year (i.e., October 1,
2006 to September 30, 2007), the total ceiling is set at 70,000 admissions
Department of State). Information on earlier years is available at
What is the role of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in
The CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ) has statutory
responsibility to make and enforce regulations necessary to prevent the
introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from foreign
countries into the United States (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/mission.htm).
DGMQ is responsible for oversight of the medical examinations of refugees and
immigrants (link to
What are some of the obstacles refugees face while resettling in the United
Refugees who are resettling in the United States may face a variety of
obstacles and challenges primarily related to health, education, culture shock
and language barrier, loss of livelihood, and economic hardship.
What is the role of a resettlement agency?
There are many voluntary agencies that assist refugees in resettling in the
United States. The primary role of resettlement agencies (link)
is to provide temporary assistance to refugees during their initial state of
resettling within a new culture. “Temporary” may mean anywhere from 6 months to
several years depending on the needs of the refugee and nature of the
resettlement agency. The assistance offered also varies and agencies will
assist refugees in finding employment, housing, literacy and education courses,
counseling, primary health care services, and public assistance. Resettlement
agency staff members and volunteers will also assist refugee families resettle
by helping them cope with the cultural shock of language barriers and social
Take the Refugee Quiz!
Visit a Voluntary Resettlement Agencies (VOLAGs) Web site: