What is resettlement?
Many refugees cannot go home because of continued conflict, wars and persecution. Many also live in perilous situations or have specific needs that cannot be addressed in the country where they have sought protection. In such circumstances, UNHCR helps resettle refugees to a third country.
Resettlement is the transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another State, that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent residence.
UNHCR is mandated by its Statute and the UN General Assembly Resolutions to undertake resettlement as one of the three durable solutions. Resettlement is unique in that it is the only durable solution that involves the relocation of refugees from an asylum country to a third country. There were 20.4 million refugees of concern to UNHCR around the world at the end of 2019, but less than one per cent of refugees are resettled each year.
Providing for effective reception and integration is beneficial for both the resettled refugee and the receiving country. Governments and non-governmental organization partners provide services to facilitate integration, such as cultural orientation, language and vocational training, as well as programmes to promote access to education and employment.
Find out more: Frequently Asked Questions about resettlement
In 2019, UNHCR submitted the files of over 81,600 refugees for consideration by resettlement countries. Among them were some 29,700 refugees from the Syrian Arab Republic, 19,000 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 5,900 from Afghanistan and 4,400 from Somalia.
More than 63,600 individuals departed to resettlement countries with UNHCR’s assistance in 2019. The largest number of refugees left from Turkey (10,600), followed by Lebanon (8,400), Jordan (5,500), the United Republic of Tanzania (4,000) and Egypt (4,000).
The Three-Year Strategy (2019 - 2021) on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways
The Three-Year Strategy has been developed in collaboration with over 90 stakeholders who play different roles in developing and delivering resettlement and complementary pathways. Meaningful efforts to build and strengthen systems; to foster leadership; to engage all sectors of society; to provide refugees with an influential voice; to develop evidence-based approaches, and to harness the power of multi-stakeholder partnerships will be essential in meeting our common commitment.
Strategy document available in the following languages: Spanish – French – Portuguese
Reports and tools
- UNHCR Refugee Resettlement Trends, 2015
- Global Resettlement Infographics
- UNHCR, Complementary Pathways for Admission to Third Countries – Key Considerations, April 2019 (also available in French, Russian, Arabic and Spanish)
- Resettlement Handbook and Country Chapters
- UNHCR-NGO Toolkit for Practical Cooperation on Resettlement
- The History of Resettlement: Celebrating 25 years of the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR)
- New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants of 19 September 2016 and its annexed Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF)
- Global Compact on Refugees, Report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (PDF)
- Resettlement documents on RefWorld