ICMC Welcomes European Resettlement of Vulnerable Refugees
GENEVA September 10 2008 - The International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) welcomes recent decisions by Iceland and Sweden to resettle vulnerable Palestinian refugees from camps in Iraq, and in neighbouring border areas.
On Monday, September 8th, 29 vulnerable Palestinian refugees stranded for the last two years on the Iraq-Syria border, were scheduled to arrive in Iceland.The group includes some of the most vulnerable refugee individuals such as women who have lost their husbands during the conflict in Iraq - and their children.Though Iceland's is a relatively modest program, resettling 25-30 refugees annually, it provides a model for emerging resettlement countries, in that it accepts vulnerable refugees with special needs, relies on NGO expertise in implementing the program, and demonstrates that small programs can have a significant and strategic impact in providing refugee protection (see ICMC's Welcome to Europe, A Guide to Resettlement).
Another group of 155 Palestinians from Al Tanf are scheduled to resettle soon to Sweden.
An estimated 2,300 Palestinians are still living in desperate conditions in two refugee camps along the Iraq-Syria border: Al Waleed Camp inside Iraq and Al Tanf Camp in the no-man's land between the Iraqi and Syrian borders.Al Waleed camp is presently home to more than 1,400 refugees, while Al Tanf camp has doubled in size since October 2007, with some 900 refugees living there (1). Of the estimated 34,000 Palestinians who lived in Iraq in 2003, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 remain.
ICMC advocates for the expansion of state Resettlement efforts globally, as a demonstration of international solidarity and in recognition of an increasing number of vulnerable refugees identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as in need of resettlement (2) - see joint NGO advocacy letter to the EU Presidency.
(1) Information regarding Palestinian refugees and resettlement is drawn from UNHCR September 8, 2008 briefing notes on this subject, http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/48c0fefe2.html
(2) Refugee Resettlement: Performance Outcomes 2007 and Global Projections 2009 - UNHCR