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Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative promotes Canada's private refugee sponsorship model

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Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative promotes Canada's private refugee sponsorship model

16 December 2016 Also available in:

The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative met in Ottawa this week for a three-day launch event that brought together 90 participants, including sponsorship groups, international delegates, partners and government officials interested in Canada’s private sponsorship model for refugees. 

There are close to 1.2 million refugees around the world in critical need of resettlement. The addition of a private sponsorship program alongside existing government-assisted ones ‎has the potential to significantly increase resettlement places for vulnerable refugees. Private sponsorship plays an important role in facilitating the integration of newly arrived refugees thanks to the support and engagement of individuals, community organizations, faith-based groups, NGOs, private companies and resettled refugee families. 

The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative is led by the Government of Canada, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the University of Ottawa, the Radcliffe Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations. During this week’s meetings, participants met with more than 30 experts from Canadian civil society, sponsors and sponsored-refugees, to discuss the Canadian model, share lessons and develop advice for other countries looking to develop private sponsorship of refugees programs.

In attendance at the conference were representatives from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as a variety of other stakeholders from around the world. They discussed Canada’s private sponsorship model and how it could be adapted and supported in other countries’ contexts.

Throughout the conference, participants discussed the need for champions in other countries to generate support for private sponsorship programs and the need to engage civil society in building and growing these programs. They also committed to working together to make sure that the global narrative on refugees is a positive one.



“Resettling refugees is the right thing to do, and through private sponsorship Canada can offer protection to a greater number of refugees than those directly supported by the Government. We are excited about the work of this initiative to build the capacity for others to launch private sponsorship programs, inspired by the Canadian model.” 

- The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada


“Our hope is that the successful Canadian private sponsorship model will inspire other States to develop programs appropriate to their context. We have been actively advocating with several countries in Europe and Latin America on the importance of creating more resettlement opportunities for vulnerable refugees.” 

- Johannes Van Der Klaauw, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative to Canada


“This is an extraordinary initiative that has brought together partners of very different kinds who are united in working toward an important goal. Clearly private sponsorship is an innovative means for expanding resettlement opportunities for refugees. But it’s much more than that. There’s a tremendous desire from people around the world to respond to this crisis. The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative creates opportunities for citizens to engage with and participate in a humanitarian effort—for the benefit of refugees and for the benefit of the communities that they live in.”  

- Gregory A. Maniatis, senior program advisor, Open Society Foundations


“As a proud Canadian, I am very encouraged by our meetings this week on how best to share our proven refugee sponsorship model. The refugee crisis can be addressed if we act as global citizens, in collaboration with governments, the private sector and the philanthropic community.”

- Frank Giustra, Founder and President of the Radcliffe Foundation


“I am proud that for over thirty years Canadians have been privately sponsoring refugees. This initiative aims to share Canada’s experience and support the adoption of similar models in other countries. The ultimate goal is to increase refugee protection by mobilizing the compassion that exists in communities around the world.”  

- Jennifer Bond, University of Ottawa


Quick Facts:

• Since the late 1970s, private sponsors have brought more than 288,000 refugees to Canada, over and above those resettled with government funding.


Related products 

• Media Advisory - Canada to Host High-Level Meeting of Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative

• News Release - Canada, UNHCR & the Open Society Foundations Seek to Increase Refugee Resettlement through Private Sponsorship 


Associated links

• Backgrounder: Canada's Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program 


Follow us



Camielle Edwards

Minister’s Office

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Ottawa 613-954-1064 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Communications Branch

[email protected]

Ottawa 613-952-1650

Anne Mcpherson 

Open Society Foundations

[email protected]

New York 917-531-4050

Cecile Pouilly

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 

[email protected]

Geneva   +41 79 200 7617

Gisèle Nyembwe

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 

[email protected]

Ottawa   613-232-0909 ext.225

Cellular  613-986-4300


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