A Yemeni child stands at a temporary evacuation center in Sanaa, capital of Yemen, Dec. 19, 2015, as his family was forced to flee from home due to the ongoing air strikes and internal conflicts. (Xinhua/Hani Ali)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Monday lifted a ban on admissions to refugees from 11 countries that it identified present a high security risk, while announcing new vetting measures.
The changes came after a 90-day review by the White House of refugee admissions from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Several refugee children are seen at a refugee camp in Aden Province, Yemen, June 16, 2012. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed)
Those seeking to enter the United States will undergo a risk-based assessment, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement on Monday.
"These additional security measures will make it harder for bad actors to exploit our refugee program, and they will ensure we take a more risk-based approach to protecting the homeland," DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said.
The measures include additional screening for certain nationals, and a periodic review and update of the refugee high-risk country list and selection criteria.
Refugees from South Sudan rest at a refugee camp in Sudan's White Nile state near the border with South Sudan on May 17, 2017. (Xinhua/Mohamed Babiker)
Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a directive setting the country's annual refugee cap at 45,000, the lowest annual limit since 1980. It is one of a string of limits he imposed on the U.S. refugee program.
The United States has admitted roughly 6,500 refugees since the 2018 fiscal year began in October, compared with about 32,000 during the same period last year, according to State Department figures.
Displaced Syrian children stand outside of their tents at Kelbit refugeecamp, near the Syrian-Turkish border, in Idlib province, Syria Jan. 17, 2018. (Xinhua/REUTERS)
Among them, 332 refugees who have been admitted to enter America so far this fiscal year came from "high-risk" countries, compared with nearly 16,000 in the same period last year.