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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In observance of World Refugee Day, 30 former refugees in the Jacksonville area were sworn in as new American citizens Wednesday.

A special ceremony was held at the Jacksonville Public Library located at 303 Laura Street North in Downtown Jacksonville.

Amajority of these new citizens came to Jacksonville to escape political, religious or ethnic persecution in their homelands of Bosnia-Herzegovinia, Cuba, Burma and Iraq. Others have resettled in the Jacksonville area from Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Thailandwith the help of the Florida Department of Children and Families. FDCF has helped thousands of refugees through its Refugee Services Program.

The Refugee Services Program is federally funded and provides services to refugees with the goal of helping them become self-sufficient through temporary cash assistance, job training, adult and youth education programs and tutoring.

Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties received 919 refugees last year. The First Coast has been recognized by the U.S. State Department as a welcoming community where it is easier for refugees to resettle and find jobs. Additionally, Florida has the largest refugee population in the United States.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are over 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world.

For more information about World Refugee Day or how you can provide lifesaving assistance to help refugees rebuild their lives, visit http://www.worldrefugeeday.us or contact the Florida Department of Children and Families at (904) 723-5470.