Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
May 9, 2006
Refugee Admissions Program for Africa
Since 1980, more than 185,000 African refugees have been admitted to the United States for permanent resettlement. Most are Somali (over 58,000) or Ethiopian (over 39,000), but the number also includes Sudanese, Liberians, Congolese, Rwandans, Sierra Leoneans, and Angolans, among others. In recent years, the program has grown more diverse both in terms of nationalities admitted to the United States and processing locations. In FY 2005, refugees from 24 African countries were admitted to the United States .
The bulk of refugee admissions processing in Africa is coordinated by the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Accra , with the assistance of an Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) and IOM in each location. Processing in sub-Saharan Africa takes place during circuit rides originating at our two regional centers in Accra and Nairobi and is the result of careful coordination among UNHCR (for identification of refugees and processing and logistical support on site), OPE (for case preparation and post-adjudication processing), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (for adjudication), and IOM (for cultural orientation and travel arrangements).
The U.S. program also processes refugees in Cairo , although UNHCR referrals of Sudanese refugees in Cairo have declined significantly in the last year due to the increased focus on voluntary repatriation. Referrals of Somali refugees in Cairo have increased.
FY 2006 Admissions Program
The U.S. admissions program for FY 2006 includes a ceiling of 20,000 admissions from Africa – 33% of the total regional ceilings approved by the President for the year. Family reunion cases will comprise a significant portion of total African refugee arrivals this fiscal year. Refugee Coordinators in Africa are working with UNHCR, NGOs, OPEs and IOM to identify new groups in need of resettlement for admission in future years. Groups that will be processed beginning in FY 2006 for arrival in FY 2007 include Burundian refugees in Tanzania and Eritrean Kunama refugees in Ethiopia . Refugees of any nationality in Africa are eligible for referral to the program by UNHCR, a U.S. Embassy, or an NGO that has attended training or held consultations with the Refugee Coordinator. We anticipate reduced UNHCR referrals of Liberians and Sudanese throughout FY 2006, due to ongoing repatriation programs, which will lead to lower admissions of those nationalities in FY 2006 and 2007.
The Priority Three (P-3) family reunification element of the Africa program for FY 2006 applies to spouses, unmarried sons and daughters under age 21, and parents of persons who were admitted to the United States as refugees or asylees and who are nationals of the following countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, and Togo. (In March, we announced that P-3 eligibility for nationals of Liberia will be terminated at the end of FY 2006.) For consideration for family reunification under these guidelines, a qualified relative in the United States may file an Affidavit of Relationship with one of the affiliate offices of participating resettlement organizations.