United_NationsWill the Trump administration change an archaic process?

Nayla Rush
Senior Researcher at the Center for Immigration Studies.

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The latest United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) resettlement assessment report summarizes its 2015 activities and introduces its 2017 strategic direction and needs.1 At a time when refugee protection is addressed on a global scale, the report, “UNHCR Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2017”, provides us with insightful information about submission categories and acceptance rates, top resettlement countries of origin and destination, and more. It also suggests how badly in need of reform the entire refugee system is.

Some takeaways from the UNHCR report:

  • 62 percent of all refugees referred (or submitted) for resettlement 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 those 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.

Download a PDF of this Backgrounder.