The U.S. decision announced today to reduce, substantially and for the third consecutive year, the number of refugees it will admit for resettlement in the United States over the coming year is deeply troubling for the UNCHR, the UN Refugee Agency.
The admissions ceiling of 18,000 leaves thousands of the most vulnerable refugees in risky circumstances sends a counterproductive message to other countries on the need for more burden-sharing and erodes one of three durable solutions for refugees.
“At a time of record forced displacement in the world, lower admissions constrain UNHCR’s ability to deliver on its refugee protection mandate and diminish our humanitarian negotiating power at the global level,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
Grandi underscored that only about half of one percent of the world’s 26 million refugees – including victims of torture, women and girls at risk and other individuals with acute vulnerabilities – are resettled to any country.
This is only after intensive screening and is solely at the discretion of admitting states. Yet with the numbers of individuals and families uprooted around the world by conflict and persecution at an all-time high, resettlement needs far exceed the places governments are making available for them.
The U.S. ceiling for fiscal year 2020 starting October 1 is well below the number of people already waiting in the U.S. resettlement pipeline. Lower admissions will postpone reuniting of traumatized families and leave many living in open-ended limbo, lacking basic conditions for rebuilding their lives. (Source: UNHCR)