The State Department revealed today that the top country of origin for refugees admitted during the past fiscal year was not Syria, but the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Syria was the country of origin with the second-highest number of refugees accepted into the U.S. during the fiscal year, followed by Burma, Iraq and Somalia.
More than 70 percent of the 84,995 refugees admitted came from those top five countries. More than 72 percent of refugees were women and children, according to the State Department. “Many are single mothers, survivors of torture, people who need urgent medical treatment, religious minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex (LGBTI) persons, or others imperiled by violence and persecution,” said the office of press secretary John Kirby in a fact sheet released today.
The number admitted is five people short of President Obama’s goal of admitting 85,000 refugees during the fiscal year, but was still the most refugees admitted in 17 years. The usual number of refugees admitted each year during Obama’s tenure has been 70,000.
The goal for fiscal year 2017 is 110,000 refugees.
Forty-one percent of refugees came from the Middle East and South Asia, 37 percent came from Africa, nearly 15 percent were from East Asia, 4.6 percent were from Europe and 1.5 percent hailed from Latin America and the Caribbean.
The number of approvals escalated sharply toward the end of the fiscal year, with 1,704 refugees from Africa in October 2015 compared to 5,559 last month. In October 2015, 1,979 refugees were accepted from the Middle East and South Asia; this spiked to 6,193 admissions in August.
The top native language spoken by new arrivals was Arabic, followed by Somali, Kiswahili, Nepali, Sgaw Karen (a Thai/Burmese language) and Armenian. The State Department report did not break down refugees by religious affiliation.