The United States is the top recipient country for refugees referred for resettlement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, according to a new report released Thursday by the Center for Immigration Studies.
UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, referred 62 percent of all refugees — or 82,491 submissions— to the United States in 2015, according to CIS’ analysis of UNHCR’s latest assessment report. Canada received the second highest level of submissions with 22,886 or 17 percent of refugee referrals, followed by Australia 9,321 (7 percent), Norway 3,806 (2.8 percent), and the United Kingdom 3,622 (2.7 percent).
According to the report — authored by CIS senior researcher Nayla Rush — with UNHCR’s resettlement submission level projected to reach 143,000 in 2016, the number of annual UNHCR submissions has grown 79 percent in four years. In 2012 UNHCR submitted 74,840 refugees for resettlement; 92,915 in 2013; and 103,890 in 2014. The 134,044 refugees UNHCR submitted in 2015 were — prior to 2016 — the highest level in a single year, according to CIS.
To be sure, when UNHCR submits the name of a refugee to a government, the nation is not required to accept the case but rather consider it. The vast majority of refugees submitted for resettlement are, however, accepted for resettlement.
According to CIS’ report, the acceptance rate for refugees referred by UNHCR in 2015 was 91.8 percent. Refugees from Bhutan had the highest acceptance rate with 98.3 percent, followed by Burma with 98 percent, Congo with 95.9 percent, Eritrea with 95.3 percent, and Syria with a 92.6 percent acceptance rate.
Syria has been the top country of origin for UNHCR refugees seeking resettlement for the past few years. As CIS reports, 40 percent of all refugee submissions in 2015 — 53,305 of them — were from Syria.
Rounding out the top five countries of origin in 2015 were Congo (20,527), Iraq (11,161), Somalia (10,193), and Burma (9,738). Together, the top five countries comprised nearly 80 percent of all refugee submissions in 2015, according to CIS’ report.
The top regions of origin for refugees were the Middle East and North Africa. In 2015, 40 percent of refugee submissions hailed from the Middle East and 29 percent were from North Africa.
Looking forward to 2017, CIS reports that UNHCR estimates some 1,190,519 refugees will need resettlement in 2017 but the U.N. body will only be able to resettle a portion (170,000) of those total cases. CIS notes that the projection is 72 percent higher than the pre-Syrian refugee situation — when the body forecast 691,000 in 2014. In 2017, Syrians are projected to make up 40 percent of the total number of refugees expected to need resettlement, according to CIS’ analysis.
Read the full report.