New ICMC - ERN research report on resettlement and other legal avenues for Syrians

In the framework of the European Resettlement Network, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) has released a new report entitled: “10% of Refugees from Syria: Europe’s resettlement and other admission responses in a global perspective”.

In the context of a worsening protection climate in the Middle East, underfunded UN programmes, and the situation in the Mediterranean, the ICMC report features a comprehensive comparative overview of resettlement and other admission programmes operated by European countries. As per the findings of the report, around 55,000 places have been pledged by European countries, of which approximately one-third of these places are for resettlement, and two-thirds for other types of humanitarian admission.

 “Certain countries are already playing a crucial role in the reception and admission of Syrians”, Peter Sutherland, the President of ICMC, stated, and who has provided the foreword to this report. “Austria, Norway and Switzerland have responded with new resettlement and other admission places; Germany alone has pledged over 30,000; even Brazil, an emerging economy, has so far issued over 7,000 humanitarian visas – the biggest contribution outside Europe.”

 “The capacity of neighboring countries to deal with increasing numbers of Syrians, and now also refugees from Iraq, is reaching a breaking point”, explained Peter Sutherland, who continued, “[T]he situation of the refugees is becoming more desperate every day, with limited options to survive and live with dignity. Without alternative options, they are turning to smugglers and dangerous journeys across seas and other borders”.

As of July 2015, there are now 4 million Syrian refugees in countries neighbouring Syria.  ICMC therefore encourages States around the globe to increase their responses and offer 10% - that is to say, 400,000 Syrians – resettlement places and other types of admission opportunities by 2020. Such a figure represents a substantial increase to that target set by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), which has requested States to provide 130,000 admission places, including resettlement, humanitarian admission, extended family reunification, humanitarian and student visas, and community-based private sponsorship programmes by 2016 – a goal which will likely be reached by the end of 2015.

The new proposal under the European Commission’s Agenda on Migration for Member States to provide 20,000 resettlement places in 2015-2016 is certainly an important step in this direction, notes ICMC. However, it will be important to properly support new countries that will now engage in resettlement for the first time, or who will be expanding their intake of refugees through relocation and/or resettlement. In order to ensure that refugees will benefit from adequate reception and integration programmes upon arrival, programmes will need to be properly planned and coordinated. This should be done in close cooperation between governments, municipalities and civil society partners, building upon the resources and partnerships that exist in the country concerned. Many practices and resources have been developed in the context of the European Resettlement Network and the SHARE Network, states Petra Hueck from ICMC in Brussels. “Let’s use and not duplicate these when we engage with new countries and actor’s. We must now involve these actors in our network activities, and develop together tailor-made support and solutions”. 

Click here to download the full report.