U.S. Department of State
Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999
Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Washington, DC, September 9, 1999
U.S. REFUGEE ADMISSIONS PROGRAM
Since the mid-1990's, the U.S. Refugee Program (USRP) has been directing its efforts away from the refugee admissions programs centered on the Cold-War area and towards a program that is focused on providing protection in the form of resettlement for a more diversified refugee population, including those persecuted because of their religious beliefs. To accomplish this goal the USRP has initiated a number of activities. These include:
- Working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to enhance the UNHCR's resettlement activities in a number of areas, including funding secondments and staff travel directly in support of resettlement activities, regional resettlement training seminars, and other similar activities to increase the UNHCR's capacity to identify refugees in need of resettlement. A particular focus of these efforts has been directed at refugee populations in the Middle East.
- Increasing the pool of resettlement countries by encouraging nontraditional resettlement countries to participate in the program so as to increase resettlement opportunities to meet worldwide needs. Additionally, the U.S. Government has been supporting actively the UNHCR's Global Accession Campaign to encourage countries that are not party to the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and/or its 1967 Protocol to accede to the convention.
- Developing and implementing a system to modernize and standardize refugee resettlement processing, both overseas and domestically. The goal is to make the U.S. refugee admissions program more responsive to changing refugee resettlement needs and more efficient. To accomplish this goal, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) is funding a 4-year project to create a centralized, worldwide database that will track all refugees being considered for admission to the United States and will link up all the processing entities overseas with PRM, the refugee placement component of the program and ultimately our resettlement partners such as the UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Resettlement, domestic resettlement agencies, and the states. The Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System, or WRAPS, is scheduled to be fully operational by 2001.
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