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Waiting for Resettlement Interviews in Syria: “Caught Between a Rock and No Place”

About 10,000 Iraqi refugees wait in Syria for the interviews with the US Government that will determine their future and that of their families, the New York Times reports. But even though the Syrian government has made visas available for DHS officials to conduct resettlement interviews, and while Canada, the International Organization for Migration, and the UNHCR continue to operate in Syria, the United States will not send interviewers.

The U.S. is concerned, and indeed there is great cause for concern, that the security situation in Syria is too volatile to have DHS officers on the ground. “A simple solution to that would be too agree to conduct interviews by videoconference,” Becca Heller, IRAP Director, told the New York Times. But the US government has argued in the past that the law requires in person interviews. In its Memo on the Use of Videoconferencing in Syria, IRAP explains why the U.S. government should take advantage of this technology as soon as possible, and why legal arguments against videoconferencing are unfounded.

“I think we should really be worried about another refugee crisis,” Yasir Imad, an Iraqi who was recently allowed entry to the United States after living in Syria for almost four years, told the New York Times. He added, “the general feeling in Syria is that it is still better to be in Syria than Iraq.”

Read the full New York Times story here.