Arlington, Va. — Yesterday, President Biden announced the United States refugee admissions goal of 125,000 for the 2023 fiscal year. The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) applauds the Administration’s objective to restore the U.S. resettlement program.
“To make this practical, we call on the Administration and Congress to follow up with investments that will strengthen the program and meet the goal. Doing so can only be met with significant expansion of the U.S Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and backing it up with a corresponding budgetary increase,” said Tsehaye Teferra, Ph.D., President and CEO of ECDC.
Recognizing that in FY 2022, the U.S. Resettlement program served over 75,000+ Afghans in addition to USRAP arrivals and has taken enormous steps to welcome Ukrainian refugees, the goal for the FY22 Presidential Determination of 125,000 was met by only 16%. “It is critical to draw lessons from the previous year’s performance and address capacity issues,” said Teferra.
In addition to addressing issues of accountability, the Administration has to ensure that the U.S. resettlement program is equitable more than ever in the face of alarmingly huge displacement crises in countries such as Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rohingya, Sudan, Syria, and others. The administration has to swiftly address the backlog of refugees in the USRAP who have spent years in the referral pipeline.
Today there are 100 million forcibly displaced people worldwide—a record high. The UNHCR states there are 31 million refugees worldwide—the highest ever recorded in history. Yet the number being resettled worldwide is at an all-time low. UNHCR also stated that almost 1.5 million people urgently need resettlement in 2022 and that the number will rise in 2023.
First, we must act swiftly to compensate for the lost time in responding to the overwhelming global needs. Second, we must also ensure that the United States resettlement program responds equitably across all refugees in need of protection.
Our communities have demonstrated through their words and actions that America deserves a refugee resettlement program and a refugee admissions goal that reflect our nation’s values of compassion and inclusivity.
America must rise to retake its humanitarian leadership role as a place of hope, where people from around the world can seek freedom, safety, and protection from persecution. We must set the bar high in our nation’s response to the unprecedented global challenge the world faces today.