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Taken Question
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 18, 2007
Daily Press Briefing September 17, 2007

Processing Of Iraqi Refugees For Resettlement (Taken Question)

Question: How many Iraqi refugee referrals for U.S. resettlement has the Department of State prepared?

Answer: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has referred approximately 10,000 cases to the United States. At the direction of the State Department, the Overseas Processing Entities (OPEs) in the region, such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), have prepared 7,500 Iraqi refugee cases for interview by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Out of the 7,500 prepared cases, DHS will have interviewed some 4,500 by September 30, 2007. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2008, the OPEs will prepare the remaining 2,500 (of 10,000) Iraqi refugee referrals, plus additional referrals that we expect to be made to the U.S. refugee admissions program. This is an ongoing process and we receive new referrals daily.

Question: How many State Department employees in the region (Turkey, Syria, Jordan, etc.) work exclusively on processing Iraqi refugees?

Answer: The State Department enters into cooperative agreements with international organizations or NGOs, such as the IOM, under which they serve as the OPEs in the region. OPE’s pre-screen applicants and prepare all materials necessary for DHS to adjudicate cases. Currently, some 150 people work on U.S. refugee admissions processing for the OPEs in the region (Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt). In addition to State Department officers in Washington, a full-time Refugee Coordinator is based in the region to monitor the operations of these OPEs. State Department also sends supplemental officers to the region on a temporary basis.

2007/774


Released on September 18, 2007

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