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Less than 5 per cent of global refugee resettlement needs met last year

Briefing notes

Less than 5 per cent of global refugee resettlement needs met last year

19 February 2019
Portugal. Resettled refugees arrive in Lisbon
A Syrian refugee family arrives at Lisbon airport after being accepted for resettlement by Portugal, December 2018.

New data released by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency shows that despite record levels of worldwide forced displacement, just 4.7 per cent of global refugee resettlement needs were met in 2018.

This is according to data released this month on UNHCR-facilitated resettlement departures which shows that of the estimated 1.2 million refugees in need of resettlement in 2018, only 55,692 were actually resettled.

The largest number of UNHCR-facilitated resettlement departures were from major refugee-hosting countries, including Lebanon (9,800), followed by Turkey (9,000), Jordan (5,100) and Uganda (4,000).

Out of a total of 81,310 referrals, the largest number of referred refugees are from the Syrian Arab Republic (28,200), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (21,800), Eritrea (4,300) and Afghanistan (4,000).

Sixty-eight per cent of submissions last year were for survivors of violence and torture, those with legal and physical protection needs, and women and girls at risk. More than half, 52 per cent, of all resettlement submissions in 2018 were for children.

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 available only to a fraction of the world’s refugees. Typically, less than one per cent of the 19.9 million refugees worldwide under UNHCR’s mandate are ever resettled.

Resettlement remains a life-saving tool to ensure the protection of those most at risk. It is an instrument of protection, and a tangible mechanism for governments and communities across the world to share responsibility for responding to forced displacement crises. Resettlement and other complementary pathways for admission, is a key objective of the Global Compact on Refugees, to help reduce the impact of large refugee situations on host countries.

In 2019, it is estimated that 1.4 million refugees who are currently residing in 65 refugee hosting countries worldwide, will need resettlement.

Major resettlement needs this year include those for Syrian refugees currently hosted in countries across the Middle East and Turkey (43 per cent) and for refugees in countries of asylum and transit along the Central Mediterranean Route (22 per cent), where movements towards Europe continue to take a devastating toll on human life.

The Global Compact on Refugees calls for States to offer more resettlement places, through expanding existing programmes or establishing new ones.

UNHCR is currently working with States and partners, to develop a three year strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways to help increase the pool of resettlement places, encourage more countries to participate in global resettlement efforts, and increase access to complementary pathways for refugees.

More information on UNHCR’s resettlement data for 2018 is available here: and UNHCR’S Global Resettlement Data Portal with statistics since 2003 can be accessed here:

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