UN Report Shows A Broken Refugee System

by Marguerite Telford –

Its look ahead to 2017 suggests more of the same

WASHINGTON, DC (January 5, 2017) — A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies analyzes the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) resettlement assessment report, which summarizes the agency’s 2015 activities and introduces its 2017 strategic direction and needs. The CIS report concludes that the refugee resettlement program, an archaic holdover from the Cold War era, is broken and the present U.N. leadership is unlikely to make any meaningful changes.

The UN and the U.S. may have the best of intentions, but hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to resettle a few thousand people, while millions of refugees continue to live in despair. The UN and the U.S. need to put more emphasis on development-based policies, proximity help with the goal of refugees ultimately returning to their countries of origin better equipped to rebuild when conflicts end.

Nayla Rush, a senior researcher at the Center for Immigration Studies and author of the report, commented, “Contrary to UNCHR and U.S. official claims, it is not necessarily the most vulnerable and urgent cases that are being submitted for resettlement. Examination of this recent report makes clear the need for a thorough re-evaluation of the refugee system.”

View the complete report at: http://cis.org/UN-Report-Shows-Refugee-System-Needs-Changes

Some takeaways from the UNHCR report:

• 62 percent of all refugees referred for resettlement (“submitted” is the UN term) by the UNHCR in 2015 were for the United States.

• Virtually all refugees referred by UNHCR (92 percent) are accepted by resettlement countries.

• About 40 percent of refugees referred for resettlement were in the Middle East and North Africa region; sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 29 percent. The top countries were Syria and Congo.

• Contrary to official UNHCR and U.S. claims, it is not necessarily the most vulnerable and urgent cases that are submitted for resettlement. The UNHCR itself acknowledges that almost all refugees submitted for resettlement are in circumstances “where there are no immediate medical, social, or security concerns which would merit expedited processing.”

• Going beyond conventional resettlement, the UNHCR is promoting “any mechanism which allows for legal entry to and stay within a third country.”

• The UN report estimates that 1,190,519 refugees will need resettlement in 2017, though it will submit only a fraction of cases.

• It is increasingly evident that the refugee system run by one single agency, UNHCR, is archaic, an anachronism from the Cold War, and is due for a thorough reevaluation.

Contact: Marguerite Telford
202-466-8185, mrt@cis.org

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