The Ultimate Goal
UNHCR has a mandate in refugee protection, which is to ensure the right of everyone to seek asylum so that there is no forced repatriation without assessment.
While UNHCR’s primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees, its ultimate goal is to help find durable solutions that will allow the refugees to rebuild their lives in dignity and peace. There are three solutions open to refugees where UNHCR can help:
Voluntary repatriation is the return in safety and dignity to the refugees’ country of origin and for them to re-avail themselves of protection from their country of origin, based on their free and informed decision. If refugees so choose to return to their country of origin and if conditions in the country of origin are conducive for return, UNHCR works with the country of origin and host countries to help refugees return.
Local integration is the integration of refugees in the host community in which recipients avail themselves of the national protection of the host government. However, since Hong Kong is not a signatory to the UN 1951 Convention for Refugees, this option is not usually possible for recognized refugees.
Resettlement means that a refugee leaves Hong Kong and legally settles in another country where they will receive legal and physical protection, including access to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights similar to those enjoyed by nationals. Resettlement should allow former refugees to become naturalized citizens in due course. Resettlement, however, is not a right and UNHCR can not guarantee that all recognized refugees will be resettled. There are only a small number of resettlement countries in the world and out of all the resettlement countries, only a very limited number accept resettlement submissions from Hong Kong. Each resettlement country has different criteria for acceptance of resettlement applications. The resettlement process usually takes a long period of time. As each resettlement country’s resettlement policies and the adjudication of each case is different, it is not possible to provide an average time it takes for resettlement. For more information on UNHCR’s resettlement policy and practice, please refer to here.
Building Better Futures
Along with the international community, we take a broad look at finding solutions for people forced to flee conflict and serious human rights violations. For many refugees, that may mean going home. Those who cannot return because of continued conflict, wars or persecution may find a home in another country. Another alternative for those who are unable to return home is integration within the host community. Countries around the world have also agreed to look at other ways to help protect refugees by admitting them on humanitarian visas, setting up private sponsorship schemes, issuing labour and study visas and other non-traditional arrangements.