ERN+ Conference: Brussels, 18 September




’The Role of Churches and Christian Organisations in Community-based Sponsorship Programmes of Refugees in Europe

Challenges, Opportunities and next Steps’

18 and 19 September 2017


The International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC Europe), the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), Caritas International and the European Resettlement Network (ERN) have the honour of inviting you to a 1.5 day roundtable ‘The Role of Churches and Christian Organisations in Community-based Sponsorship Programmes of Refugees in Europe’ on 18 and 19 September 2017 in Brussels.

Faith-based communities are brought together by their shared belief that welcoming the stranger and extending a hand to those in need is one of the most fundamental Christian duties. For many years, churches and Christian organisations across Europe and elsewhere have offered remarkable responses to the increasing numbers of arrivals, assisting and welcoming refugees and integrating them into local host communities.  

In the face of a global displacement crisis that is unprecedented in nature and scale, it is essential for more protection places to be made available in order to offer a durable solution to refugees, including via legal pathways that are complementary to resettlement. Churches and Christian organisations have over the past years consistently called upon European leaders to save lives and prevent further deaths at sea, and to put in place channels for safe and legal entry to Europe, in addition to traditional refugee resettlement.

Inspired by the successful Canadian model of private sponsorship that has been operating for more than 30 years, churches and faith-based organisations have taken a lead in piloting community-based sponsorship programmes. Their potential as pioneers is evident in initiatives like the Humanitarian Corridors in Italy and France, launched by the community of St. Egidio, the strong involvement of Christian faith communities in the setting up of the community sponsorship programme in the UK, and not least the support to extended family reunification offered by Protestant and Catholic communities in Germany. In all these programmes, private actors personally and financially assume responsibility to receive, assist and welcome refugees in their communities.

However, the above mentioned programmes are still in their initial phase and differ significantly with regards to their core components: the division of responsibilities between government and private actors, the legal status granted to beneficiaries, the duration and nature of the commitment of sponsors, the safety net in place as well as the complementarity of such programmes with regards to existing annual resettlement commitments, vary according to each national context.   

With several community-based private sponsorship programmes evolving quickly, it is time to take a closer look at where we stand and what lies ahead. This conference will therefore bring together churches and Christian organisations to discuss and define the core components of private sponsorship programmes. Gathering faith-based experts and practitioners from Canada and Europe, the conference will discuss how faith communities can offer innovative ways to enhance the welcome and integration of refugees and how sponsorships can become a permanent part of the European protection landscape.

Please register your interest HERE before 20 July 2017.

This conference is organised within the framework of the European Resettlement Network (ERN) project  'ERN+ Developing Innovative European Models for the Protection of Refugees and Providing Support to New Resettlement Countries', , co-coordinated by IOM, ICMC Europe and UNHCR.

For more information on the conference, as well as the ERN+ project, please contact Project Manager Magdalena Boehm

A full concept note and programme, as well as logistical details will follow soon. Some financial support is available for selected organisations