U.S. Refugee Admissions Program News, Volume 2, Issue 6
November 4, 2004
Released by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
[pdf format ]
In This Issue:
Admissions Program Begins a New Fiscal Year
Admissions Program Begins a New Fiscal Year
The Refugee Admissions Program begins fiscal year 2005 with strong momentum. This fiscal year, as last, President Bush has authorized up to 70,000 refugee admissions, 50,000 allocated by region and 20,000 unallocated.
The new year starts with a large number of families and individuals preparing to come to America. The greatest number of arrivals in the first half of the fiscal year are likely to be Hmong-Lao from Thailand, Somali Bantu coming from Kenya, Meskhetian Turks, Liberians from Ghana and Guinea, and Iranians from Turkey. By the end of March 2005, the vast majority of Hmong-Lao and Bantu approved for resettlement will have arrived.
Travels of the Assistant Secretary
Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Arthur E. "Gene" Dewey spent approximately six weeks traveling overseas in September and October.
The trip began in Africa on September 22. Mr. Dewey joined the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, and a group of donor nation representatives in visits to Sudanese refugee camps in Chad, populations of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan's West Darfur region, and in meetings with Chadian, Sudanese, and international and non-governmental organizations. Mr. Dewey found that the effort to aid refugees in Chad is improving, but urged the U.N. to prepare for a possible influx of additional refugees. He also called for increased efforts to protect civilians from the violence that is still occurring in Sudan.
On September 30, Mr. Dewey visited a USAID-funded primary school in the town of Donji Srb, Croatia, photo below. PRM funds have been used in the Donji Srb area for projects to encourage refugee returns. The refugee situation in the Balkans has shown steady improvement recently. After years of few Serbs returning to Croatia, there seems to be a new window of opportunity for progress on refugee returns.
Mr. Dewey led the U.S. delegation to the annual meeting of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in Geneva, October 4-8. His formal remarks and the transcript of a press conference he gave are available at www.usmission.ch.
The Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration provided approximately $127 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in fiscal year 2004. Assistant Secretary Dewey participated in the semiannual meeting of the UNRWA Major Donors Group in Amman, Jordan, on October 13-14, and met with Israeli and UN officials in Jerusalem. Mr. Dewey visited Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan to assess the need for donors to invest in new schools and medical clinics.
The Assistant Secretary visited Nepal, India and Bhutan October 18-25, for discussions focused on finding solutions for more than 100,000 refugees of Bhutanese origin who have been living in camps in Nepal for over 10 years. He also visited the Tibetan Reception Center in Kathmandu.
Mr. Dewey touched down briefly in New York the last week of October. He participated in a panel discussion on development issues as part of the annual Hilton Humanitarian Prize ceremony. In early November, the Assistant Secretary flies to Beijing for the 15th International Challenges Seminar. He'll then return to Washington and hang up his garment bag for at least a few weeks.
Donor Mission in South America
Nancy Iris, the Acting Director of the Bureau's Office of Assistance for Europe, the Caucasus, and the Americas, took part in a donor mission to Colombia and Ecuador in mid-October. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) arranged the trip, which included representatives from the European Commission, Canada, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Spain.
The visit to Colombia gave participants a better understanding of the importance of technical assistance that UNHCR provides the government of Colombia. The technical assistance is intended to help the government of Colombia develop and implement its laws pertaining to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). As a result of UNHCR's work, government agencies are paying increased attention to IDPs, and a greater share of the national budget is being devoted to the needs of those displaced. Issues still to be addressed include the status of property left behind by people who have fled their homes, as well as the status of land now being occupied by IDPs. Many IDPs live in unofficial communities that are not considered to be regular municipalities and therefore do not receive social services.
The donors visited IDP communities in Soacha, on the outskirts of Bogota, and in Quibdo Department. They also took part in the re-launching of the UNHCR-supported vessel Noah's Ark, on the Atrato River. Noah's Ark, which brings supplies to IDP communities, was severely damaged in a guerilla attack. Armed actors have also blockaded the river, making it difficult to reach the IDP populations.
Since January 2000, approximately 27,000 Colombians have been registered by and requested asylum from Ecuadorian authorities. 7,800 of those have been granted refugee status. The on-going UNHCR refugee status determination process is funded by donor states.
In addition to those who are registered, the government of Ecuador estimates that as many as 300,000 Colombians may be living in Ecuador illegally. Unlike many refugee situations, there are no camps in Ecuador. Instead, migrants from Colombia are widely scattered in both rural and urban settings. UNHCR, more accustomed to dealing with camp situations, is working to develop new standards for measuring the needs of non-camp refugees.
Participants in the donor mission were impressed by the government of Ecuador's commitment to meeting its international obligations towards the Colombian refugees. Ecuador is the current chair of UNHCR's Executive Committee.
Fiscal Year 2005 Admissions Statistics