The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and IOM, the International Organization for Migration, announce a temporary suspension of resettlement travel for refugees due to the COVID-19 global health crisis. Reduced entry into territories and restrictions around air travel led to a disruption in travel arrangements for resettling refugees.

Some countries also paused their resettlement arrivals as their national public health situation impacts the capacity to receive newly resettled refugees. These quickly evolving regulations had a direct impact on refugees and refugee families, with some experiencing extensive delays, being stranded or separated from their families.

In addition, the two agencies are concerned that international travel exposes refugees to the virus. However, refugees who have already cleared all formalities should be resettled to their intended destination. The temporary measure to suspend further resettlement travel will be in place as long as it remains essential given risks.

Resettlement is a live-saving tool for many refugees, thus UNHCR and IOM call States to ensure that movements can continue for the most critical emergency cases wherever possible. Both agencies look forward to resume full resettlement travel as soon as safety and logistics permit.

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Photo: (CC) IOM – UN Migration, October 2014

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.