Pandemic Should not Impede Resettlement of Refugees in Danger by UNHCR, IOM

March 19, 2020

Washington, D.C. — In response to the announcement from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that have temporarily suspended  travel for refugee resettlement due to the COVID-19 global health crisis, Rev. John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, issued the following statement:

“The threat of COVID-19 is impacting the lives of everyone. Tragically, it will be our loved ones in harm’s way – including refugees who have already faced immeasurable sorrow and hardship – whose lives will be the most upended. For many of these families, further delaying their access to safety through resettlement leaves them in increasingly dangerous situations. 

We take seriously the risks of this global pandemic and the need for limiting and screening travel, as well as ensuring that refugees arrive in communities that are prepared to support their successful integration. We also understand the gravity that these decisions have and urge UNHCR, IOM, and the U.S government to continue to facilitate the resettlement of refugees who are in immediate danger and in need of urgent care.

Church World Service stands in solidarity with these families, ready to assist them as much as possible in the locations where they are stranded, as well as when their path to resettlement continues. Around the world, we will continue to provide displaced families with critical support and services to help them keep their families healthy and strong.”

For more information or to speak with CWS, contact Christopher Plummer