On 3-4 of February 2014, the Working Group on Resettlement (WGR) took place in Copenhagen, Denmark. Led by the Danish Chair, Jakob Dam Glynstrup from the Danish Immigration Service, and the NGO Chair, Eva Singer from the Danish Refugee Council, the meeting brought together 71 participants from 20 resettlement states, 10 international and national NGOs, IOM and UNHCR. It was well attended by EU Member States, while representatives from EASO and the European Commission/Directorate General for Home Affairs were also present.
The WGR was opened by Renata Dubini, Head of UNHCR’s Resettlement Service and Deputy Director to the Division of International Protection. Ms. Dubini updated participants on the key developments and challenges for resettlement in the global context, including a global resettlement trends analysis, resettlement processing issues, resettlement within emergency response mechanisms, resettlement management and the resettlement outlook for 2014.
Several priority situations were discussed in detail, including the Syrian refugee crisis, which was chaired by the Swedish delegation and included presentations from UNHCR, Sweden and Germany. This session focused on the implementation of resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes for Syrian refugees, planning for 2014, and on the experiences of states and receiving communities in processing Syrian refugees for resettlement. An update on current pledges and more general information on the Syria crisis can be found here.
Other updates on priority situations included the Congolese situation and the on-going effort to submit at least 50,000 Congolese from the Great Lakes and Southern Africa region for resettlement between 2012 and 2017, in addition to the Somali situation and the continued need for resettlement despite the recent signing of the Tripartite Agreement on Voluntary Repatriation. Furthermore, Best Interest Assessments (BIA)/Best Interest Determination (BID) were discussed, while feedback was received from the Contact Groups for Colombians, and Afghans in Iran and Pakistan, respectively, with discussions also taking place on reform of the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR) and the WGR. Last but not least, breakout sessions on integration were organized addressing integration models, the reception of refugee survivors of violence or torture, and integration through access to the labour market or study.
The programme of the third day was an optional visit to neighbouring Malmö, Sweden, with a focus on the work of local and regional Swedish agencies and NGOs in supporting newly arrived refugees and migrants. While the programme did not have a resettlement-only focus, it gave an insight into broader challenges on integration and the innovation required to meet these challenges in the context of a city like Malmö.
In addition, on 5 of February, the Core Group on Resettlement of Syrian Refugees convened in Malmö under the chairmanship of the Swedish Migration Board to discuss the current number of places pledged, continued dialogue with the host countries, as well as strategic outcomes based on a presentation of the UNHCR paper, “Unlocking Opportunities for Complementary Solutions”. The Belgian government and the European Commission proceeded to provide presentations on the use and availability of EU-funding for resettlement and humanitarian admission of Syrian refugees.
With the WGR laying the groundwork for the upcoming ATCR in June 2014, these issues and more will be discussed further on that occasion.