UN to suspend refugee resettlement because of coronavirus

Travel restrictions imposed to fight the outbreak of COVID-19 will have an impact on a vulnerable group — refugees.

he U.N. 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.

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.

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