The United States is putting a temporary pause on refugee admissions in light of the coronavirus pandemic, according to two sources familiar with a Trump administration call to refugee organizations Wednesday morning.
The move comes after the International Organization for Migration, which is in charge of booking refugees on their travel, and the UN refugee agency announced a temporary suspension of resettlement travel. The agencies shared concerns in a statement Tuesday, saying international travel “could increase the exposure of refugees to the virus.”
A State Department spokesperson confirmed the temporary suspension, saying that the pause is expected to be in place from March 19 through April 6. Wednesday is the last day for refugee arrivals.
“The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program coordinates refugee arrivals with its international humanitarian implementing partners, IOM and UNHCR,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The temporary suspension of resettlement travel programs globally will impact the arrival of refugees in the United States and other countries with refugee resettlement programs.”
As of February 29, 6,273 refugees have been admitted to the US this fiscal year.
This story has been updated with comment from the State Department.