Some refugees cannot go home, or are unwilling to because they would face persecution. Even after fleeing their country, many live in perilous conditions, or have needs that cannot be addressed in the country where they first sought asylum.
In these cases, UNHCR helps refugees resettle in a third country. Worldwide, only about one percent of refugees have the opportunity to be resettled. The resettlement country provides the person with legal and physical protection, and the same rights and privileges enjoyed by the country’s citizens, which every refugee should eventually have the opportunity to become.
Resettlement is a life-altering experience – both infinitely challenging and rewarding. Refugees are often resettled in a country where the society, language, and culture are completely new to them. Creating the proper environment to receive refugees is a benefit to both refugees and the receiving country. Governments and NGOs must offer services to help newcomers integrate, such as cultural orientation, language and vocational training, and programmes to assist them in getting an education and finding jobs.
Only a small number of countries currently take part in UNHCR resettlement programmes. The United States is the world’s top resettlement country, and Australia, Canada and Scandinavia also accept refugees every year. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of European and Latin American countries involved in resettlement.
In the seven countries that UNHCR Central Europe oversees, there are some small-scale resettlement programmes.
UNHCR-funded emergency resettlement facilities have been established in the villages of Timisoara (Romania) and Humenne (Slovakia) that provide a temporary haven for refugees who face dangers in their first country of refuge. These facilities are transition centres, which provide a safe and secure environment where refugees can prepare for resettlement to a new home. In addition, these facilities offer resettlement countries a stable location where resettlement procedures, such as interviews, language courses, and cultural orientation, can be carried out.
The two centres are co-financed by UNHCR, which also offers expert advice on issues such as management and protection.
UNHCR Central Europe also participates in the EUREMA project, which relocates people who have received refugee status in Malta to other countries in the EU.