UNHCR: 1 in 10 Syrian refugees will need resettling, other solutions in next 3 years

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 29 March 2016, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 30 March, UNHCR is hosting here in Geneva a high-level Conference that will focus on refugees from Syria, and the need for generating a substantial increase in resettlement and other answers for their plight.

The conference is one of several key events in 2016 to do with Syria's refugees. It follows February's London Conference on Syria which focused on the financial dimensions of the humanitarian challenge posed by the more than 13.5 million people in need inside Syria and the 4.8 million refugees in the surrounding region along with the needs of communities in countries hosting them. And it comes in the run up to September's summit on refugees to be held at the General Assembly meeting.

The focus of tomorrow's conference is the need for expanded, multi-year programmes of resettlement and other forms of humanitarian admission, including involving countries that till now have not been involved in such initiatives. Resettlement is not the only aim. Other such pathways include humanitarian transfer or visas, private sponsorship, medical evacuation, family reunion, academic scholarship, and apprenticeships or labour schemes. The event will also showcase innovative approaches, new partnerships, and successful case studies, and is an opportunity for governments around the world to be part of finding solutions for Syrian refugees.

The meeting will be attended by representatives of some 92 countries, 6 inter- governmental organizations, 14 UN agencies and 24 non-governmental organizations and 3 other bodies. Speakers will include UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, plus representatives of key refugee-hosting governments.

Some pledges of additional resettlement and other humanitarian admission places are expected to be announced on Wednesday. However, given today's complex international context and with Syria's conflict continuing, additional places will be needed over the coming months and years, in particular to address the needs of the most vulnerable refugees and to relieve pressure on Syria's neighbours. In line with refugee situations elsewhere, UNHCR estimates that as many as 10 per cent of Syria's 4.8 million refugees fall into this category, and that well over 450,000 places will be needed before the end of 2018.

Additional information:

In connection with tomorrow's conference, the Campaign Director of Avaaz, Alice Jay, will today be handing over a petition to High Commissioner Grandi carrying over 1.2 million signatures in support of refugees. The petition, collected since last summer calls for increased resettlement and reunification of families alongside financial support to countries on the frontline of the crisis, among other things. Avaaz, meaning 'voice', is a global citizens' movement which campaigns in 15 languages on six continents. A selection of photographs and messages of 'Refugees Welcome' from 23,000 Avaaz members around the world will be shared on a screen outside the conference hall tomorrow.

Media arrangements

For correspondents interested in covering the event, the following media arrangements are in place:

  • The entire meeting will be live-streamed at http://webtv.un.org/ and http://www.unhcr.org/pages/5694d22b6.html , where additional background information on the conference can also be found. (Please note, the video will only become available once the conference starts.)
  • Video footage: UN TV will provide a multi-camera live feed of the conference to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which will make it available to its members. [Non-members can enquire at: evn@eurovision.net)
  • Photos: News-photographers will be allowed free movement in the room at the event start, but will be required to move to the back of the room once the session gets underway. A UNHCR photographer will cover the entire event, and photos of main speakers will be available here (one time registration required).
  • For the opening session (from 9.00-10.00), a limited number of designated seats for accredited Geneva Palais media representatives will be available at the back of Room XX. Due to limited places, please register your interest to attend in advance to Needham@unhcr.org. Please note, extra security screening will be in place to enter the conference room.

Press encounter/stakeout

  • There will be a media stakeout with High Commissioner Grandi at 1100-1120 in the area outside Room XX.

Media materials, background & enquiries: