Small number of Iraqi refugees enter the US
Iraq-USA, Politics, 7/9/2007
US Department Of State spokesman Sean McCormack today said "we're working aggressively to try to process Iraqi refugees who have been classified as refugees by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. We have -- I think we're up around 163 thus far that have entered the United States."
McCormack said "And we're working very closely with the Department of Homeland Security on this. They have to go through and they have to do a vetting procedure, which everybody understands the need to do. While we want to meet our humanitarian obligations here, we also want to make sure we do so in such a way that our borders and the American people are protected."
He added "We are also working very hard to make sure that for those who are still in the region, whether that's in Jordan or Syria or elsewhere, that we are able -- we are able to do our part as a member of the international community to meet some of the humanitarian needs of those people who have left Iraq. Everybody, including a vast majority of the people who are -- who have left Iraq want to one day return to Iraq, and certainly that is our hope."
He said "But for those who are there right now, we want to make sure that, for example, their children can enroll in school. We're working towards the goal with the Syrian and the Jordanian governments so that you can get 100,000 children enrolled in school so that they can continue their education. We want to make sure that they have the basic minimum -- at the very least, minimum humanitarian needs in terms of shelter, clothing and food and immunizations."
McCormack said "It's a big task, and we're doing our part. We want others to do their part. Certainly, credit should be given where it's due. The Syrian and the Jordanian governments have worked to meet some of the strain that this places on their system. So we are -- we need to continue working hard to process those people who have qualified for refugee status and who have been directed our way for resettlement."
Asked about criticism of the US speaking about 63 Iraqis refugees being admitted last month to the US versus some 2 to 2.5 million Iraqi refugees," MCormack said "first of all, you have -- I can't tell you the exact number of people who have left Iraq. Now, that's the universe of people. Now, the subset of that are people who have been classified as refugees. UNHCR can tell you about how many of those people have been classified as refugees. A further subset is the number of people who have been classified as refugees that have been referred to the United States for resettlement. That number is about 7,000. So clearly, the 7,000 is a much smaller subset of the overall 2 million -- let's just use that figure -- but we have more work to do. And that's evidenced by the fact that only -- thus far, only 163* of those referrals have actually made it through to the United States. But we're going to work to close that gap."
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