Sasha Chanoff, N04, F04, was honored at the White House last year as a World Refugee Day Champion of Change. Chanoff, a graduate of the Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance program at the Friedman and Fletcher schools, is the founder and chief executive of RefugePoint, a Cambridge-based organization that provides long-term help to the world’s most vulnerable refugees. Since founding the nonprofit in 2005, Chanoff has worked in more than 20 locations across Africa with people fleeing persecution in war-torn areas.
In November, he told WBUR’s “Radio Boston” that concerns about refugee resettlement programs allowing dangerous people into the United States are based on fear and not an understanding of the vetting process. Of the nearly 20 million refugees in the world, he said, less than 1 percent will have access to a resettlement program.
“We know that we have to take extraordinary cautions to select the right people for these programs,” Chanoff said. It may take years of corroborating interviews and fact collecting. “We get to know them.” When humanitarian groups recommend a refugee be resettled, he said, it is often “as a life-saving measure.”