Iraqi resettlement update

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR has now referred more 80,000 refugees from Iraq to resettlement countries worldwide. The UN refugee agency's resettlement programme for Iraqi refugees began in 2007 and as of October this year 82,500 individuals had been referred to more than a dozen countries. Around 75 per cent - or just less than 62,000 - Iraqi refugees have been referred to the United States. The remaining 25 percent of cases have been referred to a total of 14 resettlement countries, including Canada, Australia, Germany and Sweden.

Figures for 2009 show that as of October 7, 28,500 Iraqi refugees were put forward for resettlement. Again, around 75 percent of those referrals were to the United States.

According to governments in the region, there are an estimated 2 million Iraqi refugees, the majority of them living in Syria and Jordan. The authorities in Baghdad estimate an additional 2.7 million Iraqis are internally displaced.

Globally, UNHCR expects to make 127,000 refugee resettlement referrals this year, though we estimate that there is more than half a million refugees in need of resettlement.

We urge states to expedite where possible the resettlement of those particularly at risk. Of the 82,500 referred cases only 33,000 departures have taken place so far.