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Report: State Dept. Resettles Over 1,000 Afghan Refugees During Coronavirus Pandemic

In the past month, the State Department resettled over a thousand refugees from Afghanistan, even though the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program was temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in refugee camps overseas, including in Greece, where a migrant camp had to be quarantined after 23 asylum seekers tested positive for the coronavirus.

The pause on refugee admissions was expected to last from March 19 through April 6, but according to Ann Corcoran of Refugee Resettlement Watch,  1,003 Afghan refugees were resettled during that approximate time period.

A State Department spokesperson said in a statement last month that the temporary suspension of resettlement travel would “impact the arrival of refugees in the United States and other countries with refugee resettlement programs.”

But the arrivals don’t seem to have been impacted, according to Corcoran, who keeps a close eye on refugee resettlement numbers. 

“While you have been incarcerated at home, discouraged from traveling at all, the US government has flown 1,003 so-called Special Immigrant Visa holders into the US and distributed them around the country,” she wrote.

Corcoran noted that on March 16th, there were 6,867 special refugees from Afghanistan for fiscal year 2020.

“As of April 13th we are at 7,870, a gain of 1,003 in that 4 week period!” She said.

The states of Texas, California, Washington and Virginia took in the most Afghan refugees during that time period, according to a State Dept. Admissions and Arrivals spreadsheet.