Conference Report: The role of churches and christian organisations in community-based sponsorship programmes of refugees in Europe: challenges, opportunities and next steps

On 18 and 19 September 2017, ICMC Europe, within the framework of the ERN+ Project and in collaboration with Caritas International and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), hosted a two-day conference in Brussels to discuss the pioneering role of Churches and faith-based actors in the development of private sponsorship programmes in Europe, namely: Humanitarian Corridors in Italy and France; community sponsorship in the United Kingdom, and private sponsorship for family reunification in Germany and Ireland.

Nearly 80 stakeholders from 16 countries in Europe from Churches, faith-based organisations, civil society network, international organisations as well as five Canadian experts joined the event, which aimed to identify best practices and main challenges across existing programmes, and opportunities to scale them up. Despite the different forms private sponsorship programmes have taken across Europe, a fruitful exchange made it possible to achieve progress in defining common principles and benchmarks.

Through private sponsorship, local communities and churches in partnership with government and wider civil society organisations can seize the opportunity to actively participate in protection schemes and shape a welcoming culture.

This report summarises the presentations and discussions at the two-day conference and highlights some of the key issues related to private sponsorship programmes in Europe.