July 29, 2011
Reaction to Eman al-Obeidy’s U.S. Resettlement
New York, NY – In response to news the United States has granted protection to Eman al-Obeidy, the Libyan woman who drew international attention earlier this year when she accused Libyan forces of gang-raping her, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer issued the following statement: “Eman al-Obeidy’s harrowing ordeal, which included a dramatic escape from Libya only to be deported back there against her will by the Qatari government, highlights the need for the United States and the international community to further develop effective emergency mechanisms to ensure that refugees who are at imminent risk of harm are quickly brought to safety. While Ms. Al-Obeidy’s resettlement request appears to have been processed in under two months, other refugees often remain stranded in difficult and dangerous circumstances for extended periods of time. Her resettlement is the exception, not the rule, and we need to fix that.” Human Rights First has offered the following recommendations to enable a more timely and effective resettlement for vulnerable refugees:
- Improve the timeliness of resettlement processing, including through properly resourcing and addressing unnecessary extended delays in the security clearance process. The National Security Council, together with the Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies, should improve the inter-agency security clearance procedure by ensuring adequate staffing, prioritization and coordination to enable security checks for refugees and U.S.-affiliated Iraqis to be completed accurately and without unnecessary delays;
- Develop and implement an emergency resettlement procedure for refugees facing imminent danger. The Department of State should continue to work with other relevant federal agencies to develop and implement a formal and transparent resettlement procedure for refugees who face emergency or urgent circumstances. This procedure should enable resettlement to take place within a set time period, and facilitate transfers of refugee cases to UNHCR’s Emergency Transit Centers when appropriate.