The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned that the number of refugees resettled in safe countries will reach a record low in 2020, as it urged the UK government to restart its flagship program.
According to the latest data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as of the end of September, only 15,425 refugees had been resettled globally, compared to 63,726 in 2019, 55,680 in 2018, and 65,108 in In 2017 and 126,291 in 2016.
In the UK, ministers recently said they would soon resume resettlement trips, which were suspended in March due to the COVID-19 virus.
However, the cases will be part of the nearly completed Vulnerable Resettlement Plan (VPRS), which is supposed to be replaced by the new global resettlement program, which was initially announced in June 2019.
“It’s really encouraging that the UK has resumed resettlement,” said Rossella Bagliucci Lore, UNHCR Representative in the United Kingdom.
“The VPRS scheme was a real success, but it is almost complete. The needs are huge and growing due to the pandemic. We urge the government to provide clarity and confirmation on when to start its new global program.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has urged countries to resettle as many refugees as possible in 2020 in order not to lose resettlement opportunities for refugees, and to maintain resettlement quotas for 2021.
The agency estimates that due to Covid-19’s impact primarily on handling resettlement and travel, as many as 15,000 resettlement places will be lost in 2020.
Despite the impact of the pandemic, UNHCR resettlement operations identified and addressed cases throughout the year, providing resettlement files for more than 31,000 refugees.
Of the refugees resettled this year, Syrians made up the largest portion – 41% – followed by Congolese, 16%. Others are from 47 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Myanmar.
Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Jillian Triggs, He said, “We are dealing with a disappointingly low resettlement ceiling to start with – a quota of less than 50,000 for the whole year – and that has also been affected by Covid-19’s delay to leave and the suspension of resettlement programs in some states.
The current rates point to one of the lowest levels of resettlement we’ve seen in nearly two decades. This is a blow to refugee protection and to the ability to save lives and protect the most vulnerable.
“Expanding safe and legal pathways for protection, including through resettlement, saves lives and can also reduce their resort to dangerous journeys by land or sea.”
a Home office A UK spokesperson said: “The world’s leading resettlement program is resuming in the UK after a pause as a result of the pandemic.
“ The resumption means that we are able to fulfill our commitment to bring in 20,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria to rebuild their lives safely in the UK, and we will launch a new global resettlement plan as soon as the coronavirus conditions permit.
“We have to help more people directly from the affected areas and that is exactly what we are planning with the new stable and fair asylum system, which will welcome people via safe and legal routes.”