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UNHCR welcomes establishment of Spain’s resettlement programme

Briefing notes

UNHCR welcomes establishment of Spain’s resettlement programme

2 February 2010

UNHCR welcomes the approval by the Council of Ministers of Spain on 29 January of the establishment of an annual refugee resettlement programme, in accordance with the recently amended asylum law. Spain, which took up the EU's rotating Presidency for 6 months starting January 1, 2010, will join twelve other European countries (Czech, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the UK) which have annual resettlement programmes. Last year Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg also implemented ad hoc resettlement programmes.

Resettlement is an important tool of refugee protection and provides a durable solution every year for tens of thousands of refugees who cannot safely remain in their first countries of asylum, and for whom return to their countries of origin is not possible.

UNHCR recently also welcomed the European Commission's proposal for the establishment of a Joint EU Resettlement Programme. UNHCR would like to see more European engagement in refugee resettlement, and hopes the Spanish decision will encourage other EU Member States to follow. At present, 90% of the refugees resettled every year are taken in by the United States, Canada and Australia. All European countries together provide roughly 6% of the world's resettlement opportunities. In 2009, UNHCR assisted around 66,000 refugees to resettle, of whom roughly 5,000 went to European countries. Information on resettlement programmes can be found on UNHCR's website here