Since the suspension on the United States Refugee program has expired, the Trump administration has ordered new measures, supposedly a stronger vetting process, for a system where vetting was already extreme and onerous. Coming out of the suspension period are many LGBTI refugees, through the UNHCR process, were assigned the United States for resettlement. Most of these individuals had already been subjected to the long arduous vetting process. Although they waited a long period of time, they may now be subject to further onerous long waits, not only due to the new protocols, but also because Trump has failed adequately fund and staff the relevant agencies.
HERE is the latest auto response that refugees are receiving from RSC Africa, the US agency charges with such resettlement process in Africa: "RSC Africa has resumed the full range of resettlement processing activities for refugee applicants with active cases. The processing of your refugee application may take longer than in previous years due to additional application and screening requirements. These changes to the application process are likely to result in a delay of the final decision for your case. No action is required by refugees with an active case with RSC Africa. The RSC will contact you if there are any questions concerning your case or when you are scheduled for the next stage of processing. We thank you for your patience and your continued interest in resettlement to the United States. For all refugee applicants, there is no further need to provide evidence of a bona fide relationship in the United States."
African Human Rights Coalition (African HRC) is on record with RSC Africa as advocating for several such refugees and we are informed that the process will continue, on a case by case basis, and they are asking refugees to be patient. African HRC will continue its advocacy work for individual cases as needed, as well as on a general basis, in the hope that the special circumstances and insecurities of LGBT refugees are sorted with compassion and care.
Given the extent of the insecurities and food shortages - the impact of these further delays is extremely onerous, and often life threatening. We are in great need for donations to continue our work on behalf of LGBTQI refugees in Africa. If you are on our advocacy list, please note we are doing all we can to update you individually, but this too will take time. Updated: Despite the fact that the process is moving forward, Refugees are reporting that their RSC individual websites have yet to be updated with their process. We will try and find the reason for this - however my guess is that they are still trying to figure out the new protocols, how to implement them and how to update all in a situation where staffing is short.
Melanie Nathan Nathan@AfricanHRC.org