On April 18th, 33 refugees from the Shousha refugee camp in southern Tunisia left for Australia, under a resettlement program undertaken by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Two days later, 22 refugees left for Sweden under the same resettlement scheme.
Several humanitarian and international organizations as well as Tunisian government agencies have been involved with organizing the refugee resettlement.
The camp currently houses some 3,000 residents, mostly refugees as well as some asylum seekers. Under the UNHCR's scheme of resettlement of refugees and asylum seekers in Western countries, the camp saw the number of its residents drop steadily.
To date, 2,037 refugees have been accepted for resettlement. Countries accepting refugees have been the USA (800), Norway (473), Sweden (212), Canada (161), Switzerland (131), Australia (109), the Netherlands (42), Belgium (25), Finland (24), Ireland (24), Portugal (23), Denmark (11), and Italy (2). Of them, some 1,066 have departed from the camp to start a new life abroad, according to UNHCR.
"The UNHCR submits the files of refugees for resettlement but the final decision to accept or reject a request for resettlement is with the resettlement country itself," stated Rocco Nuri, the external relations officer of the UNHCR in Tunisia to Tunisia Live.
It is expected that 22 refugees will leave on April 23rd for the USA, including an Iraqi family.