Building on the success of the European Resettlement Network to date, and recognizing the many developments that have taken place over the past year, including providing protection to the most vulnerable Syrian refugees and the adoption of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, the coordinators of the ERN (ICMC, IOM and UNHCR) will organise a one and a half day conference in Brussels on 20-21 November 2014.
Reflecting the diverse membership of the Network, this event will be open to attendees from International Organisations, European Institutions, national, regional and local governments, NGOs, private business, previously resettled refugees, and other civil society representatives.
In the post-Stockholm period, resettlement remains a vital tool in providing protection to refugees in response to both protracted and emergency situations. In the framework of the EU’s Union Resettlement Programme, it is anticipated that an increasing number of EU Member States will contribute to solidarity mechanisms and offer protection to refugees in need of a durable solutions.
With an increasing number of migrants and refugees, many of whom are Syrian, perishing while trying to cross the Mediterranean, the issue of providing safe legal access to Europe has become ever more pressing. Responding to the Syrian refugee crisis, European countries are developing new mechanisms to ensure safe access, protection and reception. Countries such as Austria, France and Germany have launched their respective Humanitarian Admission Programmes; Ireland has developed the family-linked Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme (SHAP), while the UK has implemented the Vulenerable Persons Relcoation (VPR) scheme. In addition, alternative legal access through, for example, individual sponsorship programmes and special student visa regulations are also being implemented in some European countries.
In the context of these recent developments, and building on the outcomes of the ERN networking event held in November 2013, the upcoming ERN conference will provide a platform for stakeholders to discuss both past achievements and future EU resettlement objectives and priorities, while also considering the new admission mechanisms, such as humanitarian admission and private sponsorship programmes, developed over the past 18 months. The conference will consist of a set of panels, discussions and working groups, with input from stakeholders involved at all stages of the resettlement process, including field staff working in first countries of asylum.