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5.2 Partners in resettlement

National and local government partners in resettlement

Government authorities in host countries are essential partners in facilitating and enabling access to third country resettlement for refugees on their territory, including through authorizing selection missions and facilitating refugee departures by issuing internationally recognized travel documents and exit permits. Country authorities hosting refugees should be included and engaged in the design and planning of resettlement and complementary pathways to promote buy-in, expand opportunities and build the strategic use of resettlement and other third country solutions as part of a comprehensive response in the country of asylum.

Government authorities of resettlement States establish and maintain resettlement programmes as receiving countries. The RCPS at headquarters, as well as regional bureaux and country offices, conduct regular bilateral meetings with resettlement country authorities to continuously strengthen partnerships through joint planning, discussions around resettlement needs and developments in refugee admission policies and quotas, as well as follow-up of individual cases.

National, regional, local and municipal authorities all play critical roles in the reception, integration and service provision for refugees on their territory. In addition, local and municipal authorities can declare themselves as “Welcoming”, observe World Refugee Day and take other actions that publicly demonstrate support for reception and integration of refugees in their territories. See UNHCR’s Integration Handbook for further information.

Refugee partners in resettlement

The Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) recognized that “responses are most effective when they actively and meaningfully engage those they are intended to protect and assist” and called upon relevant actors to “develop and support consultative processes that enable refugees and host community members to assist in designing appropriate, accessible and inclusive responses. The value of the participation of refugees with resettlement experience for more impactful and sustainable resettlement programmes, in partnership with States, NGOs, communities, international organizations and other key actors, has since then been widely acknowledged, including in the Three-Year Strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways, the Third Country Solutions for Refugees: Roadmap 2030 and among the CRCP community in general.

Refugees and refugee-led organizations and services in different countries continue to directly or indirectly influence the shaping of resettlement programmes and their delivery. Meaningful refugee participation in resettlement can be achieved in numerous ways, including consultation with refugee-led organizations in policy design, monitoring and evaluation processes, and refugee inclusion and influence in the development and delivery of support services in a resettlement country.

Refugees are involved from the start in the planning, delivery and participation in the CRCP and other national and international fora on resettlement. See 5.1 Multilateral forums in resettlement partnership and advocacy

NGO operational partners in resettlement

Collaboration between UNHCR and operational partners throughout the resettlement process enables the continuous identification and referral of refugees at risk, greater efficiencies in resettlement processing and submission and comprehensive support to refugees as they prepare to travel and settle in a third country. In addition, NGO partners conduct essential outreach, communication and advocacy around resettlement.

Partnerships in pre-Submission resettlement processes

Important information on individual protection and/or medical needs in the refugee population is often collected and stored by partners working in community-based and child protection, health care, education, cash, livelihoods, shelter, legal assistance and other activities. As such, these organizations often play a leading role in the identification and referral of cases to UNHCR for resettlement consideration. See 4.1 Case identification for resettlement.

Regular engagement with all humanitarian partners on resettlement is a key part of UNHCR’s coordination role. Capacity development and information sharing by UNHCR helps to empower partners to refer more cases to UNHCR that they assess as being in need of resettlement. 

Capacity development on resettlement may, as relevant and according to information needs expressed by individual partners, cover:

  • UNHCR’s resettlement priorities;
  • the resettlement submission categories and selection criteria;
  • available quotas for specific resettlement countries,
  • integrity and fraud prevention.

In addition, several international NGOs experienced in resettlement routinely offer capacity development and technical support to organizations newly engaging in resettlement activities, including case identification for possible resettlement consideration. Sometimes, longer-term capacity-building support can be provided, for example, through a mentoring relationship between the two NGOs or a “deployment” to embed experienced staff within the new NGO. UNHCR offices are encouraged to consult or partner with such NGOs, when appropriate, to join up capacity development efforts.

Feedback mechanisms on individual cases should also be developed and agreed upon between UNHCR and referring partners, with due regard to UNHCR’s data protection and privacy requirements (see 2.3 Data protection in resettlement). Communication, coordination and feedback promote accountability and transparency and are especially important where the referring actor also carries out counselling and handles requests for information and case updates from concerned refugees. Providing relevant and timely case updates to the referring partner ensures refugees are duly informed of progress on their case. It also encourages partners to continue referring cases to UNHCR, while also improving the suitability of cases referred over time.

For accountability purposes, it is best practice to document the receipt of an external referral by systematically creating a Resettlement Case in proGres for all cases referred to UNHCR by external partners, regardless of whether or not the case ultimately continues through all steps of the resettlement process.

Where NGOs prepare and make direct resettlement submissions to States, any relevant support by UNHCR for such cases (e.g. assistance, referrals, counselling and travel formalities) should be recorded in the Registration and Assistance modules of proGres, as appropriate. A Resettlement Case should not be created in the Resettlement module of proGres, which must only be used for on UNHCR Resettlement submissions. Similarly, NGO resettlement submissions and departures are not counted in the internal UNHCR Resettlement Statistics Report (RSR), which is for UNHCR Resettlement Cases only. A coordination mechanism for referrals, identity verification and case management between the respective UNHCR office and the NGO is recommended (subject to appropriate data sharing arrangements agreed at an operational, regional or global level in consultation with the Global Data Service and DIP), in order to maximize synergies, integrity and the collective protection impact of UNHCR and NGO resettlement programmes. 

Partnerships in post-Submission resettlement processes

Resettlement States work with partners to deliver pre-departure orientation and counselling, medical screening and departure arrangements to prepare refugees for travel. Additionally, some States conduct pre-departure health assessments to ensure they are prepared to respond to possible health issues upon arrival of refugees as well as pre-embarkation checks, which are a last-minute effort to assess refugees’ fitness to travel. These services are regularly provided by the IOM, but may be undertaken by different actors, including the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC).

Pre-departure health assessments involve an evaluation of the physical and mental health status of refugees prior to departure from the country of first asylum for resettlement. Health assessments serve to ensure that the process of resettlement occurs safely and successfully, from a health perspective. Importantly, they assist health authorities and other actors in countries of resettlement to appropriately prepare for and integrate refugees after they arrive. 

Health assessments involve a review of the refugee’s medical history, a physical examination, mental health assessment, additional investigations, such as radiological imaging studies, laboratory tests and specialist referrals, if required. Related services include treatment or referrals for treatment, counselling, health education, travel health assistance, and public health interventions, including communicable diseases surveillance, outbreak response and vaccinations. 

Pre-departure orientation (PDO), also called cultural orientation, offers refugees a safe learning space in which they can consider their resettlement, receive practical information about their resettlement country, and raise any questions or concerns. PDO is usually held within a month before departure and takes around three days. It is considered good practice to engage resettled refugees in the delivery of PDOs, including, as necessary, via videos, case studies, skype or video conferencing.

In addition to traditional pre-departure orientation programmes, refugees and sponsors expected to take part in community sponsorship programmes upon arrival in the resettlement country may benefit from pre-departure introduction sessions. Such sessions usually take place through different forms of videoconferencing and can allow both the selected refugees and the sponsor to get introduced to each other, exchange information and manage their respective expectations before they meet in person.

Many post-departure projects have been developed by resettlement partners in countries of resettlement. As one of many examples, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has developed the Refugees Settle-In App, available in 10 languages and providing 60 resources for refugees in the US. Another IRC project, Switchboard, provides practitioner and peer-to-peer support for refugees. See UNHCR’s Integration Handbook for other examples of NGO involvement in post-departure and integration support.

See 4.10 Pre-Departure arrangements for further information on partnerships in post-Submission resettlement processes.