UN agency urges countries to accept more refugees for resettlement

4 July 2011
A boy drinks water in the resettlement camp in Khuroson District, Tajikistan

The United Nations refugee agency today called on countries to offer more resettlement places for the world's most vulnerable refugees, warning that unless a deal is reached this year nearly 100,000 people will be left “in an agonizing limbo.”

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said 80,000 places for resettlement – offered to refugees who cannot return to their home countries or settle in the countries where they first claimed asylum – are currently available each year.

But as many as 780,000 refugees are estimated to be likely to need resettlement in the next five years, the agency warned in a press release issued from its headquarters in Geneva.

“If States do not come forward with more places, almost 100,000 vulnerable refugees in need of resettlement will remain without any solution this year,” said Wei-Meng Lim-Kabaa, the head of UNHCR's resettlement service.

“It is of paramount importance to understand that these people have no alternative solution and failure to resettle them means these people remain in an agonizing limbo.

Last year UNHCR presented more than 108,000 refugees for resettlement, and about 73,000 were eventually resettled with the assistance of the agency, with the most going to the United States.

Worldwide, however, the number of refugees accepted for resettlement is dropping, due to stringent security checks and challenges faced by resettlement countries in managing their programmes.

The agency is calling on States to make places available outside their regular quota for resettlement, and to speed up their decision-making procedures and departure clearances to ensure these refugees can live in safety as soon as possible.


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