At the High Level Segment on Solidarity and Burden-sharing with Countries Hosting Syrian Refugees, held in October 2013, the UN High Commissioner called on States to provide resettlement or other forms of admission for up to 30,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2014. In response, 23 States, the European Union, IOM, and UNHCR joined together as a Core Group, chaired by Sweden, to further coordinate efforts and mobilise support for additional pledges toward this goal.
In light of the growing needs of the Syrian refugee population, however, 30,000 places represented only the first benchmark in achieving solutions for Syrian refugees. Three months after the first appeal for resettlement places, in February 2014, the UN High Commissioner called upon States to make multi-annual commitments towards an additional 100,000 places for Syrian refugees by 2016. In response to these appeals, 25 States together have now made available more than 52,000 places for Syrian refugees on resettlement or other forms of admission, plus a significant number to the United States of America (please refer to the latest table of pledges here). This number, combined with submissions made to the United States of America to date, brings us nearly half-way towards the overall goal of 130,000 places. If States can make similar or higher commitments to receive Syrian refugees in 2015 and 2016, we will be well positioned to successfully reach this next milestone.
Given the growing number of refugees with resettlement needs, it is vital that the momentum generated by the first commitments made by States be maintained over the longer term. Pledges must represent meaningful expressions of responsibility-sharing in light of the enormity of this situation. As States’ collective responsibility will extend into the coming years, it is critical that we be proactive in planning for solutions, including resettlement and other forms of admission, which can help to ensure the most vulnerable Syrian refugees are able to access critical protection and safety.
UNHCR is therefore convening a ministerial-level pledging conference on resettlement and other forms of admission for Syrian Refugees on 9 December 2014 in Geneva, which will provide States with the opportunity to make further commitments to meet the growing needs of Syrian refugees. States may pledge to receive Syrian refugees through resettlement or other forms of admission, such as humanitarian admission, humanitarian visas, private sponsorship, scholarships for students, expanded opportunities for family reunification, and medical evacuation. UNHCR has developed guidance on pledging, providing more information about these forms of admission, the key protection principles that should undergird such initiatives, and examples of pledges, which can be viewed here.
This conference provides the international community with an opportunity to think outside of the box and identify ways in which we can develop innovative programmes for admitting Syrian refugees in larger numbers to countries that do not share a border with Syria. This may be an opportune time, for example, to consider collaboration with civil society, institutions, or NGOs to help implement or expand programmes, and to find ways to mobilise existing legislative mechanisms to enable more Syrian refugees to have access to a solution.
For more information, please visit the Focus on Syria page.