Joint Statement: UN refugee chief Grandi and IOM’s Vitorino announce resumption of resettlement travel for refugees

Resumption of resettlement departures for refugees was announced today after a temporary hold on resettlement travel due to the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

© UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced today the resumption of resettlement departures for refugees.

The temporary hold on resettlement travel, which was necessitated by disruptions and restrictions to international air travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed the departures of some 10,000 refugees to resettlement countries. Throughout this period, UNHCR, IOM and partners continued to process and counsel refugees and resettled scores of emergency and urgent cases.

In addition, numerous resettlement countries established or expanded their capacities to apply flexible processing modalities, to adapt and ensure the continuity of their resettlement programs in unpredictable circumstances.

Although many travel restrictions still remain in place, as these begin to lift in many resettlement countries more refugee departures can be anticipated. UNHCR and IOM will continue to work with our government partners and other stakeholders around the world to move towards a return to normal operations as swiftly as the situation allows in each country.

Resettlement remains a life-saving tool for many refugees and we look forward to working with our partners in host and resettlement countries to resume movements in a safe manner.

The gap between the number of refugees in need of resettlement and the places made available by governments around the world is worrisome. We continue to call for more countries to join the program and find solutions for a greater number of refugees.