By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – A continuing shortage of offers of sanctuary from governments across the world is a vital impediment to the resettlement of refugees. Nearly 1.4 million refugees are estimated to be in urgent need of resettlement worldwide, but only 63,696 or 4.5 per cent were relocated through the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in 2019.
Though the number of refugees resettled in 2019 increased modestly by 14 per cent compared to the previous year, when 55,680 people were relocated, the agency maintains that “a tremendous gap remains between resettlement needs and the places made available”.
However, as UNHCR’s Director of International Protection, Grainne O’Hara, pointed out: “Resettlement is not a solution for all the world’s refugees, but it is a life saving measure to ensure the protection of those most at risk and whose lives often depend on it.”
In 2019, the largest number of UNHCR-facilitated resettlement of refugees was in the United States, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany. Out of the more than 63,000 refugees relocated, the largest number originated from Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Myanmar.
According to the UN refugee agency, increasing refugee resettlement opportunities and other complementary pathways for admission, including through family reunification, work and study routes, is one of the key objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees. The Global Compact represents “a tangible way for states to share responsibility and show solidarity with host countries supporting large refugee populations”.
In an effort to increase the number of resettlement places and admissions, as well as expanding the number of countries offering these programs, the UN agency last year launched a Three-Year Strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways, along with governments, non-governmental organizations, and civil society groups,
While the Strategy’s target of 60,000 resettlement departures to 29 different States was achieved, UNHCR said it was worried that based on current projections, fewer refugees will be resettled this year. The goal this year is for 31 countries to resettle up to 70,000 refugees referred by the UN agency.
Among UNHCR’s priorities is to increase the number of resettlement places and the pool of countries admitting refugees, as well as safeguarding the integrity of the resettlement programme.
UNHCR and UN migration agency, IOM, have launched a joint initiative, the Sustainable Resettlement and Complementary Pathways Initiative (CRISP), to implement activities required to reach resettlement and complementary pathway objectives and are appealing to States to provide the necessary financial support of $19.9 million. [IDN-InDepthNews – 05 February 2020]
Photo: A Syrian father stands with his children at Bardarash camp in Duhok, Iraq, a day after arriving. © UNHCR/Hossein Fatemi.
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
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