UN to suspend refugee resettlement abroad
According to the UN, about 13,000 refugees are stuck on the border with Greece and Bulgaria in Turkey’s Erdine province (above). Photograph: Anadolu/Getty
Date: 2020-03-18 12:07
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration will temporarily suspend sending refugees on to resettle in new permanent homes abroad because of travel disruptions caused by the coronavirus, the agency said Tuesday (March 17).
The agency said the suspension would begin to take effect within a few days, but also appealed to countries to "ensure that movements can continue for the most critical emergency cases wherever possible”.
"Refugee families are being directly impacted by these quickly evolving regulations in the course of their travel, with some experiencing extensive delays while others have been stranded or separated from family members," the agency said in a statement.
The UNHCR works to find people who have been forced from their home by war, persecution, natural disaster or other reasons a new place to live and resettled about 64,000 last year.
The suspension means more people will be left in displaced persons' camps and other temporary settlements – places that often present significant safety and health risks of their own – until placement in permanent new homes can resume.
Separately on Tuesday, a senior official for UNICEF, the UN children's fund, said European border restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus would affect plans to transfer hundreds of children out of "dire and dangerous" refugee camps in Greece.
European countries including Finland, France, Portugal and Luxembourg, and the German city of Berlin, agreed in recent weeks to take unaccompanied minors from Greece after thousands of refugees and migrants arrived in the EU member state, including those fleeing violence in Syria.
The UNHCR said on Tuesday there were at least 10 confirmed coronavirus cases among refugees and asylum seekers in Germany. Some aid officials worry this might undermine future support for taking refugees.
Based on France 24