1. Home
  2. Africa

In the news: Refugee resettlement flattens off

The United States has slashed the number of permanent places it offers refugees. Other countries aren’t filling the gap.

Pie Chart of the nationalities of the 63,696 refugees resettled in 2019, according to the UN's refugee agency.
The nationalities of the 63,696 refugees resettled in 2019, according to the UN's refugee agency. (TNH)

For refugees who can’t go home, starting over in a new country can be a life-changing opportunity – for generations. But the chances of that, even for the most deserving cases, are less than one in 20, according to new data from the UN.

The UN refugee agency reported on Wednesday that 63,696 refugees were offered resettlement in 2019, slightly more than in 2018. Those were placed from an estimated 1.4 million potential cases – just 4.5 percent.

Every year, UN refugee case-workers prepare files of candidates eligible for “resettlement” – those who are most vulnerable in the country they have taken asylum in, or who face special threats back home. Once accepted by the receiving country, resettlement usually means not just an air ticket and accommodation, but a clear path to permanent residency and citizenship.

The total number of available places has dropped almost half from a peak of over 120,000 in 2016, due largely to a change in the US quota, slashed by President Donald Trump’s administration.

Although refugee advocates have criticised the change of policy, the United States remains the largest receiving country for these UN-organised schemes, offering one third of places in 2019. Other countries have not filled the gap.

bp/ag

Share this article

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join