(click here to download the full conference report)
On September 18th and 19th 2017, in the framework of the European Resettlement Network (ERN+), ICMC Europe, in cooperation with Caritas International in Belgium, and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) welcomed almost 80 representatives from faith-based organisations, churches, international organisations, the European Commission and civil society networks for a 1.5 days conference in Brussels on “The Role of Churches and Christian Organisations in Community-based Sponsorship Programmes of Refugees in Europe: challenges, opportunities and next steps”. The event sought to explore and advocate for expanding complementary pathways for refugee admission in the form of private sponsorship and to produce recommendations regarding key elements and benchmarks that will ensure both protection of beneficiaries and programme sustainability.
(click here to download the agenda)
The conference consisted of panels, discussions and working groups, with inputs from stakeholders currently involved in private sponsorship programmes. Private sponsorship can be defined as a public-private partnership between governments who facilitate legal admission for refugees and private actors who provide financial, social and/or emotional support to receive and settle refugees into the community. Existing programmes vary substantially in objectives, actors involved, the scope of interventions and status afforded to beneficiaries, as well as the legal regulations, safeguards and responsibilities for stakeholders involved. In the first panel, representatives from Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany shared their insights on emerging private sponsorship programmes in Europe. In the second panel, representatives from Canada provided different inputs, based on their experience in private sponsorship, on how to strengthen and expand initiatives in Europe, while introducing discussions on quality standards. The working groups focused on key elements that may inform existing and new private sponsorship programmes, such as advocacy and campaigning, defining private sponsorships, identification and selection of sponsored refugees, the division of roles among government and other actors, the time necessary to process applications, the type of status and entitlements and rights afforded to the sponsored persons, available safety-net provisions and overall programme monitoring and evaluation, but also the role of volunteers.
There is good potential to develop private sponsorship programme as a pathway for admitting refugees in Europe and to build more welcoming and open environment for refugee integration. ICMC would like to thank all the participants for two inspiring days of discussion, networking and exchange of experience.
For more information on the ERN+ project contact: firstname.lastname@example.org