Some 172,300 refugees will need to be resettled in third countries next year, the UN refugee agency says, calling for more places for the growing number who cannot stay in the country they fled to.
About 40,000 of them are unlikely to find places, according to a report by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “Resettlement is a tool for saving lives,” said UNHCR spokesman Andre Mahecic.
“They have legitimate fears of persecution because they belong to a social group, religion, or minorities and can’t stay in the (host) country or can’t go back home,” he added, also citing economic obstacles.
The UNHCR said that just 24 countries are open to resettled refugees and those states also have quotas on admission.
In 2009, the number of places available to the UNHCR stood at 80,000.
The bulk of those in need of resettlement last year came from Iraq (36,067), Myanmar (30,542) and Bhutan (22,114).
There are 15.2 million refugees worldwide, according to the UNHCR.
The resettlement issue is due to be examined at an annual three-day meeting with governments and non governmental organisations in Geneva beginning on Monday.
“We need an increase of the number of countries who accept refugees, and we need an increase in places,” said Mahecic, describing the number of countries that take in resettled refugees as “small”.
The report said the provision of places has not kept pace with the fast growth in resettlement needs since 2005.
In 2005 there were just 46,260 resettlement submissions by the UNHCR, of which more than 80 percent were met.
Last year, two-thirds of some 128,558 submissions were satisfied, the report said.