US President Donald Trump’s administration announced Wednesday it would slash the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States.
No more than 45,000 refugees will be allowed into the country over the coming year under the new plan, less than half the number proposed by the Obama administration for the current fiscal year.
If implemented, the reduced number would represent the lowest intake of refugees to enter the United States in 10 years under the resettlement program.
Resettlement is the careful selection and relocation by governments, such as the US, of vulnerable refugees who’ve already been granted asylum by another country.
However, less than 1% of the world’s refugees are resettled in this way. The vast majority stay in the countries in which they first apply for asylum, predominantly developing countries, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
Refugee numbers have recently spiked following the devastating civil war in Syria and conflicts across North Africa, pushing large numbers of asylum seekers towards Europe through the Middle East.
The United States took the largest number of resettled refugees in 2016: a total of 96,823 people according to the UNHCR, more than twice as many as Canada, the next closest contender.
Australia, the United Kingdom and Norway were also in the top five for resettlements in 2016, with Australia taking more than 25,000 refugees.
Every year since 2006, the United States has taken over 45,000 refugees as part of resettlement programs, under both the Obama and Bush administrations.
But the amount of refugees resettled every year pales in comparison to the number still living in the first country where they were granted asylum, mostly developing nations in Africa and the Middle East.
In Turkey, almost three million people are currently living as refugees, compared to only 227,000 in total in the United States, according to UN statistics.
Both Pakistan and Lebanon host more than a million refugees, while more than 900,000 live in Iran and Uganda respectively.
Germany has the most of any developed Western countries, hosting almost 700,000 in 2016.
These numbers also don’t take into account the more than two million still waiting to have their refugee status officially determined across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.