Two UN agencies announced that refugees would no longer be resettled to homes in safe countries. The UN refugee agency and the UN migration agency said resettlement would be suspended as “a temporary measure that will be in place only for as long as it remains essential”.
Refugee families are being directly impacted by these quickly evolving regulations in the course of their travel, with some experiencing extensive delays while others have been stranded or separated from family members.
In addition, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and IOM, the International Organization for Migration, are concerned that international travel could increase the exposure of refugees to the virus.
In a joint statement, the UN refugee agency (the UNHCR) and the UN migration agency (the IOM), said refugee resettlement would be suspended as “a temporary measure that will be in place only for as long as it remains essential”.
As more countries have introduced travel restrictions and frozen refugee resettlement programmes, the two agencies had little choice. They also raised concern that international travel could increase the exposure of refugees to the virus.
In 2019, the UNHCR helped more than 63,600 refugees find a life in a new country, including people who had fled Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and Somalia. In the previous year, the IOM helped nearly 95,000 people find a new home, whether through a resettlement programme to a safe country, or some other humanitarian scheme.
The decision comes after rights groups warned that refugees and migrants – especially unaccompanied minors – need urgent help. The charities are deeply concerned about the fate of 36,000 asylum seekers on five Greek islands, who are sheltering in squalid, overcrowded camps, often lacking electricity, heating and hot water.