UNHCR: resettlement is critical lifeline for refugees and needs strengthening
Over 1.44 million refugees in 60 hosting countries are urgently in need of resettlement by 2020.
One of six refugee families resettled to Portugal from South Sudan and Syria arrives at Lisbon airport to begin their new lives. © UNHCR/José António de Oliveira Ventura
According to latest estimates released today at an annual resettlement forum, hosted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, more than 1.44 million refugees currently residing in over 60 refugee hosting countries will be in need of resettlement in 2020.
“Given the record numbers of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution and the lack of political solutions to these situations, we urgently need countries to come forward and resettle more refugees,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who opened the two-day Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR) in Geneva today. This year’s consultations are co-hosted with the UK government and the British Refugee Council.
According to the Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2020 report, which was launched at the ATCR, refugees most at risk and in need of resettlement include Syrian refugees (40 per cent), followed by South Sudanese refugees (14 per cent) and refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (11 per cent).
“With the overwhelming majority, 84 per cent, of the world’s refugees hosted in developing regions facing their own development and economic challenges and whose own populations may live below the poverty line, there simply has to be a more equitable sharing of responsibility for global crises,” Grandi said.
“History has shown that with a strong sense of purpose, States can come together to collectively respond to refugee crises, and help millions to reach safety, find homes and build futures in new communities.”
By region of asylum, East and Horn of Africa accounts for the highest resettlement needs (almost 450,000), followed by Turkey (420,000), which is host to 3.7 million refugees, the wider Middle East and North Africa region (250,000) and the Central Africa and the Great Lakes region (almost 165,000).
Resettlement, which involves the relocation of refugees from a country of asylum to a country that has agreed to admit them and grant them permanent settlement, is a life-saving tool to ensure the protection of those most at risk or with specific needs that cannot be addressed in the country where they have sought protection.
Owing to the gap between the number of refugees in need of resettlement and the places made available by governments around the world, it is available only to a fraction of the world’s refugees. Last year, 25 countries admitted 92,400 refugees for resettlement, out of which 55,680 refugees were resettled through UNHCR-facilitated programs.
To share responsibility and show solidarity with host countries supporting large refugee populations, increasing opportunities for refugees to move to third countries, through resettlement and complementary pathways for admission, including family, work and study routes, is one of the key objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).
To work towards this outcome, UNHCR and partners today presented a Three-year Strategy (2019-2021) on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways at the ATCR. This UNHCR-led multi-stakeholder Strategy, which is called for in the GCR, aims at increasing the pool of resettlement places and the availability of complementary pathways for admission, as well as expanding the number of countries offering resettlement and complementary pathways programs.
‘The Three-Year Strategy represents a unique opportunity to translate the aspirations of greater solidarity and responsibility-sharing into tangible results in the form of solutions for refugees,’ Grandi said.
The Strategy, which is the outcome of extensive consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, aims to expand third country solutions so that by the end of 2028, three million refugees benefit from effective protection and solutions through, resettlement (1 million) in 50 resettlement countries and complementary pathways (2 million).
A Global Refugee Forum to be held on 17 and 18 December in Geneva, will be a critical opportunity to galvanize support through commitments and pledges from States and other relevant stakeholders.