Bahai News - Near East-South Asia Admissions Program
Near East-South Asia Admissions Program|
Fact Sheet released by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
U.S. Department of State, January 18, 2000
Since 1980, 112,500 refugees from Near East and South Asian countries
have been offered resettlement in the U.S. Most have been Iranian
(approximately 47,000), Iraqi (31,200), or Afghan (28,000). The
majority of refugees currently identified by the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as in need of third country
resettlement are Iraqis and Iranians, mostly members of religious and
ethnic minorities who have sought temporary asylum in Pakistan, Saudi
Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, and Syria -- Afghans displaced by civil conflict
and religious persecution. Some Iranians and Iraqis eligible for U.S.
resettlement apply directly for interviews at Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS) refugee processing offices in Europe. INS
conducts regular interviewing visits to Turkey, Pakistan, Syria, and
Jordan, and began conducting interviews in Lebanon in November 1999.
Visits also are planned for Kuwait, Cyprus, and Yemen in FY 2000.
Nearly 2 million Iraqis fled the fighting during the Gulf war. Though
most returned at the end of the war, significant numbers remained in
countries of first asylum, fearing persecution in Iraq. Some 39,000,
including ethnic and religious minorities and others who participated in
the uprising against the Iraqi regime, remained in refugee camps in
Saudi Arabia. From 1991 until 1997, the U.S. participated in a
multi-country resettlement effort led by the UNHCR for Iraqi refugees in
Rafha camp in Saudi Arabia. The effort resulted in third country
resettlement of 24,260 refugees; about 12,200 came to the U.S. The
Department and INS are coordinating a visit to Rafha camp in FY 2000 to
process a number of outstanding cases not previously interviewed and
100-150 newly referred cases.
The FY 2000 program provides for UNHCR referrals of Iraqi refugees
deemed at risk or in need of a durable solution, as well as qualifying
immediate family members of persons lawfully in the U.S. who appear and
apply directly at INS offices.
In Iran, the Islamic government restricts religious freedom and subjects
certain religious minorities to widespread discrimination and
harassment. Members of these groups, including Bahais, often face legal
penalties and persecution. As persons of special concern to the United
States, refugees who are members of Iranian religious minorities may
apply directly to our program at refugee processing posts regardless of
family links and without U.S. embassy or UNHCR referral. They must be
able to demonstrate in an individual interview with the INS that they
have experienced persecution.
More than 2 million Afghan refugees have fled to neighboring Iran and
Pakistan alone. Urban Afghan women who may have worked outside the home
before the current regime took power and who have no immediate male
family members have been identified by UNHCR as most in need of
resettlement. The U.S. plans to process 400-500 UNHCR referrals of
Afghan women-at-risk for the FY 2000 Resettlement Program.
FY 2000 Admissions Program
The proposed FY 2000 ceiling for refugee admissions from the Near East
and South Asia is 8,000, twice the FY 1999 level. In addition to an
increase in the number of Priority One referrals from UNHCR across the
region, the Department is facilitating greater access to the U.S.
Resettlement Program for Priority Two-eligible Iranians and Priority
Three-eligible Iraqis and Iranians, and is working with UNHCR to
identify a larger number of Afghan refugees requiring resettlement,
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