Since 1980, more than 200,000 African refugees have been admitted to the United States for permanent resettlement. The largest groups are Somali (over 65,000) and Ethiopian (over 43,000), but also included are Sudanese, Liberians, Congolese, Eritreans, Rwandans, Sierra Leoneans, Angolans, and others. In recent years, the program has grown more diverse both in terms of nationalities admitted to the United States and processing locations. In FY 2008, refugees from 24 African nations were admitted to the United States.
Refugee admissions processing in sub-Saharan Africa is overseen by Refugee Coordinators at U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Accra, with the assistance of an Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) (now called “Resettlement Support Center (RSC)”) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in each location. Processing takes place during “circuit rides” originating at the regional RSCs in Nairobi and Accra and is the result of careful coordination between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (for identification of refugees and provision of logistical support on site), RSC (for case preparation and post-DHS adjudication processing), the Department of Homeland Security/ US Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/USCIS) (for refugee claim adjudication), and IOM (for medical screening and travel arrangements). Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have received training from the Department of State may also play a role in the identification and referral of refugees for U.S. resettlement.
FY 2009 Admissions Program
The U.S. refugee admissions program for FY 2009 includes a ceiling of 12,000 admissions from Africa. From East and Southern Africa, we expect some 10,000 refugee admissions, primarily Somalis in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, as well as Eritreans in Shimelba Camp, Ethiopia who are eligible for P-2 processing. We also anticipate receiving P-1 referrals of Congolese, Burundians, Zimbabweans and other nationalities in various asylum countries, including Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, and South Africa. Given the ongoing xenophobic violence in South Africa and political instability in Zimbabwe, we are in discussion with various partners regarding the possibility of increased referrals from Southern Africa in 2009.
From West and Central Africa, we expect approximately 1,500 admissions, including UNHCR referrals of Congolese and others in Cameroon, Gabon and Central African Republic. Small numbers of P-1 referrals of particularly vulnerable cases are also expected in Ghana, Benin, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Niger, Togo, Guinea, and Mali. Also in FY 2009, we expect to start processing Sudanese Darfuri in Eastern Chad, and refugees from Central African Republic in Southern Chad, and hope to expand processing in the latter part of the year and into FY 2010.
The Priority Three (P-3) family reunification component of the Africa program for FY 2009 has been temporarily suspended and is expected to resume later this year. New guidelines for eligibility and requirements for filing an Affidavit of Relationship will be updated at that time.