RANGOON — The United Nation’s (UN) refugee agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is conducting a “last call” resettlement initiative for Burmese refugees living in Thailand who wish to resettle in the United States.
The initiative will allow unregistered refugees to reunite with their immediate families in the United States. Typically, refugees who have not registered with the UNHCR are not eligible for third country resettlement.
“This is a one-time exercise taking place only in July,” said UNHCR senior field coordinator Iain Hall.
“It is a last chance for a previously identified group of individuals who had already indicated interest in joining their immediate families in the US,” he said.
The initiative is being carried out in nine camps in Thailand where an estimated 120,000 Burmese refugees live. The UNHCR will prepare a submission to the Thai government for their consideration; however, this initiative is not part of the refugee repatriation process, according to the agency.
Hall said that the purpose of this activity was to reconfirm their intention to resettle, but the process does not guarantee their registration by the Thai government and therefore does not guarantee resettlement.
Eligible unregistered refugees are those whose immediate family members—such as spouses or minor children—were registered refugees who resettled in the US group resettlement program that ended in 2013.
Vivian Tan, a UNHCR spokeswoman, told The Irrawaddy that registered refugees could still apply for resettlement, but that interest in third country resettlement had declined in this group over the years.