Germany's plans to resettle 2,500 Iraqi refugees has begun with a young couple who flew out of Jordan with a son who needs urgent medical treatment for a heart defect, the United Nations refugee agency announced today.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that the German decision to take in refugees currently resident in Jordan and Syria is part of a decision by the European Union to accept 10,000 of the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement.
Starting earlier this year, UNHCR's Amman office gave Germany the names of 330 people for resettlement consideration, and already this month about 70 of these individuals are due to depart.
"The rapidity with which this resettlement programme has begun is a testament to the humanitarian determination of Germany to assist vulnerable Iraqis who need special assistance and protection," said Imran Riza, UNHCR's representative in Jordan.
"We hope that similar deserving cases will soon find care and hope in Germany as well as other European countries," Ms. Riza added.
A total of 500 refugees in Jordan and 2,000 from Syria will go to Germany – the first flight from Damascus is expected later this week.
Some 53,000 Iraqis are currently registered with the UNHCR Jordan office, which has recommended resettlement for 17,000 people, with more than 9,000 having been accepted by over a dozen countries.
UNHCR stresses, however, that repatriation is the ideal solution for Iraqi refugees, and though the agency is not promoting large-scale returns right now, it is providing assistance on a case-by-case basis, helping some 320 people to return from Jordan since last September.